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Exit Karunanidhi

TAMIL Nadu is in a state of shock. The demise of Muthuvel Karunanidhi on Tuesday at the age of 94 sent tremors down to every nook and corner of the state. He was such a reigning presence for more than half a century in the state politics. But, that shock was only amplified by the last punch that the rival AIADMK and its chief minister sought to inflict on the veteran leader who rode like a colossus on the essentially pro-Dravidian political scene. By refusing to grant a space on Marina Beach to bury the body, a favour that was extended to other top leaders in the state in the past, the Palaniswami government has only proven its penchant for dirty politics even in such a sad situation.

Tamil Nadu has been passing through difficult and politically volatile times after the demise of another legendary leader J Jayalalithaa in December 2016. She, like Karunanidhi, had reigned supreme in state politics for decades. Her political establishment, the AIADMK, is now facing challenges and the governance of the state by a new generation of AIADMK leaders leaves much to be desired. Some of them are steeped in corruption. The DMK, spearheaded by Karunanidhi and later by his son, too is under a cloud vis-a-vis corruption of a high order as in the 2G scam and several other deals. However, the two parties that alternated in power in the state since the 1960s also helped in pushing growth. That ear of growth is now arrested, thanks largely to the uncouth behavior, greed, lack of maturity and lack of vision of the new generation leaders. This is amply proven by the reckless actions of CM Palanisamy and his flock as in the denial of permission to bury Karunanidhi on Marina Beach – a decision that the Madras High Court has reversed.

The pro-Dravidian politics in Tamil Nadu might retain its strength for some time, if only because of the strong foundations built by Karunanidhi, or former CMs like MG Ramachandran or Annadurai, over the years. National parties have little relevance there, and both the Congress and the BJP are playing minor roles in the state. The trust of the people in the AIADMK, in particular, is on the wane ever since the demise of Jayalalitha. The party is split into parts, and there is no central figure that it could bank on now. The DMK, under MK Stalin, might still survive odds, if present trends are any indication.

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