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Late leader’s contribution discussed at Mudda debate show; he strengthened the spirit of federalism and boosted regional politics, say speakers 

Tamil Nadu’s stalwart politician, the DMK chief and five-time Chief Minister M Karunanidhi who dominated the state’s politics for six decades, died at a hospital in Chennai on Tuesday evening. The 94-year-old leader was admitted to the hospital 10 days ago after he contracted urinary tract infection and developed a high fever.

The statement issued by Kauvery Hospital said, “Despite the best possible efforts by our team of doctors and nurses to resuscitate him, he failed to respond.”

Karunanidhi’s body was taken to his home at Gopalapuram in Chennai and later shifted to his other residence in CIT Colony. It was taken to Rajaji Hall Wednesday morning for people to pay their last respects. His mortal remains will be laid to rest later in the day.

APN decided to discuss the contribution of the late leader in Tamil Nadu’s political arena and his impact on national politics in its flagship afternoon show Mudda. The participants in the debate were senior journalists Piyush Pant, Tapan Bharti and Atul Chandra, social activist Rekha Rai and APN consulting editor Govind Pant Raju. Anant Tyagi anchored the show.

Rai said that Karunanidhi’s death is a big loss to Tamil Nadu. It would be difficult to fill the vacuum his death has created. He ran a newspaper and also wrote stories for films. She said that a huge number of people, who are virtually his family members, gathered to get a glimpse of the leader’s mortal remains. Karunanidhi used to address party workers by their names, she said.

Bharti, a senior journalist, said that Karunanidhi would write letters to party workers and maintain direct communications with them. He was in favour of regional sovereignty without going against the federal structure. He also struggled against casteism.

Bharti added that the late DMK leader fought against poverty while his speeches were simple and based on facts. He was against the construction of Rama Setu saying there was no historical evidence in its support. He said that everybody is watching to see who will fill the vaccum left behind by the death of the veteran leader.

Pant, another senior journalist, said that Karunanidhi was a social reformer fighting against the caste system and social biases. He reposed confidence in his younger son, Stalin, who is expected to take forward his legacy.

Chandra, a senior journalist, said that Karunanidhi’s Dravidian ideology retained its hold on the intelligentsia and the masses till the end of his life. He said that Bihar’s former Chief Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav benefited the most from him in national politics. The late leader’s ethos strengthened the spirit of federalism and boosted regional politics.

Raju said that Karunanidhi was a politician by birth. He opposed the imposition of the Hindi language in the state and later identified with anti-Hindutva forces.

He further said that it would be incorrect to surmise that his political stature was built entirely on development. Political personalities are generally worshipped in south India, unlike in the north, he added.

—Compiled by MA Kazmi

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