Veteran Indian politician Muthuvel Karunanidhi dies

Veteran Indian politician Muthuvel Karunanidhi has died aged 94 after a prolonged illness.

Kauvery Hospital said Mr Karunanidhi died on Tuesday after suffering multiple organ failure.

Hundreds of supporters carrying his photograph had kept vigil at the hospital praying for his recovery. Many wept when they learned of his death.

<figcaption class='imgFCap'>Supporters are devastated by the loss (AP Photo/R.Parthibhan) R.Parthibhan,</figcaption>
Supporters are devastated by the loss (AP Photo/R.Parthibhan) R.Parthibhan,

Mr Karunanidhi dominated the Tamil-language movie industry as a screenwriter beginning in the 1950s, and later the political scene for nearly five decades.

He became the state’s chief minister, the top elected official, in 1969, and held that position five times for a total of 19 years. He led the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam political party.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted that India and particularly Tamil Nadu would miss Mr Karunanidhi immensely.

“We have lost a deep-rooted mass leader, prolific thinker, accomplished writer and a stalwart whose life was devoted to the welfare of the poor and the marginalised,” Mr Modi said.

Mr Karunanidhi stopped making public appearance two years ago as his health deteriorated.

He is the second key political figure to die in Tamil Nadu state in the past two years after Jayaram Jayalalithaa of the Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam party.

Cinema has always influenced Tamil politics by turning actors into popular politicians. CN Annadurai and Karunanidhi were both scriptwriters who went on to become chief ministers.

MG Ramachandran, a top actor-turned-politician, also had a strong screen presence and following and ruled the state for nearly 10 years as its top elected official.

From his school days, Mr Karunanidhi showed interest in drama, poetry and literature. He began his career as a screenwriter in the Tamil film industry at the age of 20. His first film, Rajakumaari, gained him recognition and popularity.

Mr Karunanidhi penned screenplays and dialogues for more than 50 movies. He also wrote the stories for some of them, such as Marudanattu Ilavarasi, Mandiri Kumari, Tirumbipar and Arasilangkumari.

He became a powerful political figure using his wit and oratory skills after joining politics aged 33 and winning a state legislature seat in 1957. He won 13 state elections.

He had three wives, one of whom has died. He is also survived by four sons and two daughters, according to the Press Trust of India news agency.

Mr Karunanidhi’s second son, MK Stalin, is his chosen political heir. A daughter, Kanimozhi, is a politician in the Indian Parliament.

- Press Association

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