From being the first elected chief of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) party to becoming the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu five times, Muthuvel Karunanidhi had held the fort of leadership for several decades in the southern state. Recognised from his dark glasses and yellow shawl, he was the first in the country to lead a political party for half a century.
Karunanidhi who breathed his last at the age of 94 on Tuesday at Chennai's Kauvery hospital in Tamil Nadu was a figure recognised and revered throughout the country. Karunanidhi was hospitalised after he was diagnosed with an infection in the urinary tract and had a fever.
Born in Tamil Nadu's Nagapattinam district on June 3 1924, his original name was Dakshinamurthy. He had a Telugu ancestry. Karunanidhi was more interested in poetry, drama, and literature during his school days.
His introduction to politics took place at the age of 14 and was reportedly inspired by anti-Hindi agitations. He went to take politics even more seriously with each passing year and became a key member of the Dravidian movement.
However, the path to the political arena for him wasn't an easy one. He suffered several defeats in elections to nemesis MG Ramachandran and while he had stints as Tamil Nadu CM, it was not until a strong sweep in 1996 that the DMK leader established a solid footing in the state.
While he lost the next elections - in 2001 - to AIADMK, allowing Jayalalithaa to take the realms of Tamil Nadu, DMK and Karunanidhi were back in power in 2006. He became chief minister for the first time in 1969. On May 13, 2006, he became the chief minister for the fifth time.
Untill his death, the prominent figure in south Indian politics represented the constituency of Tiruvarur in the Tamil Nadu state Legislative Assembly. He was elected to the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly 13 times (from 1957 to 2016 elections).
Karunanidhi was known for his contributions to Tamil literature. His contributions cover a vast area, from poems, letters, screenplays, novels, biographies and historical novels to stage-plays, dialogues and movie songs. Apart from literature, Karunanidhi has also contributed to the Tamil language through art and architecture.
The books written by Karunanidhi's include Sanga Thamizh, Thirukkural Urai, Ponnar Sankar, Romapuri Pandian, Thenpandi Singam, Vellikizhamai, Nenjukku Needhi, Iniyavai Irubathu and Kuraloviam. His books of prose and poetry number more than 100. He is also known for his writing works in the Tamil film industry.
He delivered an address on the inaugural day of 3rd World Tamil Conference held in Paris in 1970, and also on the inaugural day of 6th World Tamil Conference held in Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) in 1987.
Coming back to his presence in the political scenario, for DMK he was a pillar, withstanding the ups and downs of Indian politics with resolve. He was given the title of "Kalaignar".