Presence of Top Leaders at Karunanidhi’s Last Journey Reflects DMK’s Clout in TN

New Delhi: The presence of a galaxy of leaders in bidding adieu to DMK patriarch M Karunanidhi is seen as a reflection of the DMK’s political clout in the southern state which sends as many as 39 MPs to the Lok Sabha.

While leaders say their visit was aimed at paying respects to the doyen of Dravidian politics, political analysts feel there is more to what meets the eye.

Many feel various regional and national outfits are seeking to woo Karunanidhi’s heir apparent and party chief M K Stalin for the upcoming general elections, as the party is likely to fare better while riding on the sympathy wave.

They feel that with Jayalalitha no more in Tamil politics and none to carry on her legacy, the DMK is likely to score better at the hustings under Stalin’s leadership.
Sources say that keeping in view the DMK’s flexibility in going with the National Front, the NDA and the UPA in the past, various political groupings are making “overtures” to it.

A senior DMK leader, however, refused to talk on the issue saying “this is not the time”.

A large number of leaders including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress president Rahul Gandhi, besides several chief ministers were present to pay their last respects to the the DMK’s “Kalaignar”.

Asked about the Congress president’s visit, party chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said the DMK has a historic association with the UPA and there is a personal rapport that the Congress president shares with M K Stalin and Kanimozhi, the son and daughter of Karunanidhi.

“As one of the iconic figures of Tamil politics, the Congress president went there as a friend to pay his last respects and he had gone to meet him earlier too to inquire about his well being. No politics should be seen in it,” he told PTI.

Interestingly, Sonia Gandhi in an emotional letter termed the death of Kanunanidhi as a “personal loss”, saying he was like a “father figure” to her.

Apart from Modi and Gandhi, others present included Karnataka Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy, and his Kerala, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh counterparts Pinarayi Vijayan, K Chandrasekhar Rao and N Chandrababu Naidu.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury, his predecessor Prakash Karat, CPI national secretary D Raja, and former chief ministers of Kerala and Uttar Pradesh Oommen Chandy and Akilesh Yadav also paid tributes.

Nationalist Congress Party leader Sharad Pawar, former Union minister Praful Patel, ex-Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah also offered their last respects.

Former prime minister H D Deve Gowda, union minister and the lone BJP Lok Sabha MP from Tamil Nadu Pon Radhakrishnan, Puducherry Chief Minister V Narayanasamy and senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad were also present to pay respects and placed wreaths.

With 39 Lok Sabha seats, Tamil Nadu has the fifth-largest number of seats, which is equivalent to 7 per cent of the total strength of the lower house.

Though assembly elections in Tamil Nadu are slated in May 2021, the immediate election in which the DMK expects gains is in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

The state also sends 18 members to the Rajya Sabha.

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