Chennai: DMK President M.Karunanidhi (94) on Friday entered 50th year as the party chief even as he is fighting age related ailment at his home here.
Karunanidhi in the process created a record of sorts to be at the helm of a party for such long period managing several ups and downs.
On July 27, 1969, Karunanidhi took over as the party President, after he became Tamil Nadu’s Chief Minister on February 10, 1969 following the death of DMK founder C.N.Annadurai.
Karunanidhi had the party in his strong grip till his end despite presiding over two major splits and being out of power continuously between 1977-1898.
It had been a long journey for Karunanidhi who was born into a poor Isai Vellalar family on June 3, 1924 in Thirukuvalai in Thanjavur district.
Originally named as Dakshinamurthy by his parents Muthuvel and Anjugam, he later changed it to Karunanidhi as it is a pure Tamil name without any Brahminical tinge.
Starting his public life at the tender age of 14 at his native place, Karunanidhi was attracted by the ideologies of E.V.Ramasamy (also known as Periyar) the founder of Dravida Kazhagam (DK) organised the local youth as the reformist association.
The five times Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, Karunanidhi contested his first assembly elections in 1957 from Kulithali constituency successfully and ever since then he has not lost any one of the 13 elections he contested.
In 1971 elections saw Karunanidhi bloom leading the party to a landslide victory against the Congress. However bad times started soon after.
Perceiving the popularity of movie hero and party leader M.G.Ramachandran (MGR) as the future threat to his chair, Karunanidhi started side-lining him and finally expelled him in 1972.
MGR, raising the banner of corruption within the party, went on to float AIADMK to become the Chief Minister.
Consigned to the opposition benches, DMK’s fortunes revived only in 1989 when it won handsomely assisted by the split in AIADMK with one faction led by its founder’s wife Janaki Ramachandran and the other by J.Jayalalithaa.
Karunanidhi brought his sons – through his second wife M.K.Dayalu- M.K.Alagiri and M.K.Stalin – into the party. Later Alagiri became Union Minister while Stalin was declared as the political heir.
However Alagiri was dismissed from the party later for anti-party activities.
Karunanidhi also made Kanimozhi his daughter by his third wife Rajathi, a Rajya Sabha member.
After the death of Murasoli Maran, his nephew, conscience keeper and the party’s face in Delhi, Karunanidhi got the former’s second son Dayanidhi Maran a Cabinet post in the central ministry in 2004 and 2009.
With the coalition government becoming the norm at the centre, the DMK started siding with BJP and Congress to get cabinet berths.