Karunanidhi: As politician turned patriarch, family became centre of party

On a September day in 1944, while a 20-year-old bridegroom was waiting for his bride, an anti-Hindi rally passed. “Long live Tamil, down with Hindi,” shouted M Karunanidhi, the groom, and joined the protestors. The bride, Padmavathi, had to wait more than an hour before some relatives brought Karunanidhi back.

For young Karunanidhi, who took the plunge into the Dravidian movement as a teenager, the movement and the party were his family. Two more marriages and six children later, he grew into a patriarch, and detractors said his family became the party.

By 2009, family members occupied important posts in the party and the UPA government at the Centre. MK Stalin remained CM-in-waiting, while older son MK Alagiri was Union minister for chemicals and fertilisers, and daughter Kanimozhi was a Rajya Sabha member. Grandnephew Dayanidhi Maran was Union IT and telecom minister.

Political dynasties have ruled the roost in Indian politics, from the Nehru-Gandhi family at the Centre,…

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