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“Kalaignar” redirects here. For the television channel, see Kalaignar TV.

Karunanidhi at a state event
3rd Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu
In office
13 May 2006 – 15 May 2011
Preceded by Jayalalithaa
Succeeded by Jayalalithaa
Constituency Chepauk
In office
13 May 1996 – 13 May 2001
Constituency Chepauk
In office
27 January 1989 – 30 January 1991
Preceded by Janaki Ramachandran
Succeeded by Jayalalithaa
Constituency Harbour
In office
15 March 1971 – 31 January 1976
Preceded by President’s rule
Succeeded by President’s rule
Constituency Saidapet
In office
10 February 1969 – 4 January 1971
Preceded by V. R. Nedunchezhiyan (acting)
Succeeded by President’s rule
Constituency Saidapet
Personal details
Born 3 June 1924 (age 92)
Thirukuvalai, Madras Presidency, British India
Nationality Indian
Political party Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam
Spouse(s) Padmavathi (deceased)
Children M. K. Muthu
M. K. Alagiri
M. K. Stalin
M. K. Tamilarasu
M. K. Selvi
M. K. Kanimozhi
Residence Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India
Religion Atheism
Website Official website
In this Indian name, the name Muthuvel is a patronymic, not a family name, and the person should be referred to by the given name, Karunanidhi.

Muthuvel Karunanidhi (born, 3 June 1924)[1][2] (Tamil: மூதுவேள் கருணாநிதி) is an Indian politician who has served as Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu on five separate occasions. He is the head of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK),[3] a Dravidian political party in the state of Tamil Nadu. He has been the leader of the DMK since the death of its founder, C. N. Annadurai, in 1969.[4] He holds the record of winning his seat in every election in which he has participated, in a political career spanning more than 60 years.[5][6] In the 2004 Lok Sabha Elections, he led the DMK-led DPA (UPA and Left Parties) in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry to win all 40 Lok Sabhaseats. In the following 2009 Lok Sabha Elections, he was able to increase the number of seats for the DMK from 16 to 18 seats, and led the UPA in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry, to win 28 seats, even with a significantly smaller coalition. He is also referred as cleverest politician in India. He is also a playwright and screenwriter in Tamil cinema. He is popularly called Kalaignar (Tamil: கலைஞர்) .[7][8][9] Since 1975, Karunanidhi has published six volumes of his autobiography, Nenjukku Neethi (Tamil: நெஞ்சுக்கு நீதி).[10]

Personal life[edit]

Karunanidhi was born as Dakshinamoorthy[2] in Thirukuvalai, Tiruvarur district,[11] on 3 June 1924 to Muthuvel and Anjugam.[1] He married three times; his wives are the late Padmavathy Ammal, Dayalu Ammal and Rajathiammal.[12][13] Karunanidhi’s first wife Padmavathy was a sister of Chidambaram S. Jeyaraman, notable Tamil musician, music director and playback singer. She died young. Karunanidhi’s sons are M. K. Muthu, M. K. Alagiri, M. K. Stalin, and M. K. Tamilarasu. His daughters are Selvi and Kanimozhi. Kanimozhi is a Rajya Sabha MP. M. K. Muthu, his eldest son was born to Padmavathy, who died at a young age. Alagiri, Stalin, Selvi and Tamilarasu were born to Dayaluammal, while Kanimozhi is the only daughter from his third wife, Rajathiammal. He has donated his house, that is to be converted into a free hospital for the poor after the lifetime of him and his wife Dayalu Ammal.[14][15] He is an atheist.[16] M Karunanidhi, celebrates his 93rd birthday today.[17]


Karunanidhi began his career as a screenwriter in the Tamil film industry.[18] Through his wit and oratorical skills he rapidly rose as a popular politician. He was famous for writing historical and social (reformist) stories which propagated the socialist and rationalist ideals of the Dravidian movement to which he belonged. He first began using Tamil cinema to propagate his political ideas through the movie Parasakthi.[19] Parasakthi was a turning point in Tamil cinema, as it espoused the ideologies of the Dravidian movement and also introduced two prominent actors of Tamil filmdom, Sivaji Ganesan and S. S. Rajendran.[20] The movie was initially banned but was eventually released in 1952.[20] It was a huge box office hit, but its release was marred with controversies. The movie was opposed by orthodox Hindus since it contained elements that criticized Brahmanism.[21] Two other movies written by Karunanidhi that contained such messages were Panam and Thangarathnam.[19] These movies contained themes such as widow remarriage, abolition of untouchability, self-respect marriages, abolition ofzamindari and abolition of religious hypocrisy.[20] As his movies and plays with strong social messages became popular, they suffered from increased censorship; two of his plays in the 1950s were banned.[20]

Karunanidhi rose to fame as a scriptwriter for the Modern Theatres Studio in Salem about 350 kilometers from Madras or present day Chennai. T R Sundaram, the owner of Modern Theatres Studio at Yercaud foot hills, was instrumental in honouring the talents of Karunanidhi, Jayalalithaa and M G Ramachandran. Even today, whenever Karunanidhi visits Salem, he takes a ride through Modern Theatres ( now a gated community of exclusive bungalows)and goes up to the first hair pin bend on the Yercaud hill road to relive nostalgia.


Karunanidhi is known for his contributions to Tamil literature. His contributions cover a wide range: poems, letters, screenplays, novels, biographies, historical novels, stage-plays, dialogues and movie songs. He has writtenKuraloviam for Thirukural, Tholkaappiya Poonga, Poombukar, as well as many poems, essays and books. Apart from literature, Karunanidhi has also contributed to the Tamil language through art and architecture. Like the Kuraloviyam, in which Kalaignar wrote about Thirukkural, through the construction of Valluvar Kottam he gave an architectural presence to Thiruvalluvar, in Chennai. At Kanyakumari, Karunanidhi constructed a 133-foot-high statue of Thiruvalluvar in honour of the scholar.

The books written by Karunanidhi’s include Sanga Thamizh, Thirukkural Urai, Ponnar Sankar, Romapuri Pandian, Thenpandi Singam, Vellikizhamai, Nenjukku Needhi, Iniyavai Irubathu and Kuraloviam. His books of prose and poetry number more than 100.

Karunanidhi’s stage plays include: Manimagudam, Ore Ratham, Palaniappan, Thooku Medai, Kagithapoo, Naane Arivali, Vellikizhamai, Udhayasooriyan and Silappathikaram.


At the age of 20, Karunanidhi went to work for Jupiter Pictures as a scriptwriter. His first film, Rajakumaari, gained him much popularity. It was here that his skills as a scriptwriter were honed. He wrote 75 screenplays including: Rajakumaari, Abimanyu, Manthiri Kumari,Marudhanaattu Ilavarasi, Manamagal, Devaki, Parasakthi, Panam, Thirumbi Paar, Naam, Manohara, Ammaiappan, Malaikkallan, Rangoon Radha, Raja Rani, Pudhaiyal, Pudhumai Pithan, Ellorum Innattu Mannar, Kuravanji, Thayillapillai, Kaanchi Thalaivan, Poompuhar, Poomalai, Mani Makudam, Marakka Mudiyuma?, Avan Pithana?, Pookkari, Needhikku Thandanai, Paalaivana Rojakkal, Pasa Paravaikal, Padadha Theneekkal, Niyaya Tharasu, Pasakiligal, Kannamma, Uliyin Osai, Pen Singam,Ilaignan and Ponnar Shankar


M. G. Ramachandran (center) with M. Karunanidhi (photo autographed by Karunanidhi)

Entry into politics[edit]

Karunanidhi entered politics at the age of 14, inspired by a speech by Alagiriswamii of the Justice Party, and participated in Anti-Hindi agitations. He founded an organisation for the local youth of his locality. He circulated a handwritten newspaper called Manavar Nesan to its members. Later he founded a student organisation called Tamil Nadu Tamil Manavar Mandram, which was the first student wing of the Dravidan Movement. Karunanidhi involved himself and the student community in social work with other members. Here he started a newspaper for its members, which grew into Murasoli, the DMK party’s official newspaper.

The first major protest that aided Karunanidhi in gaining ground in Tamil politics was his involvement in the Kallakudi agitation in Kallakudi. Original name of this industrial town was Kallakudi and it was changed to Dalmiapuram after a cement mogul who built a cement plant there. DMK wanted to change the name back to Kallakudi.. In the protest Karunanidhi and his companions erased the name Dalmiapuram from the railway station and lay down on the tracks blocking the course of trains. Two people died in the protest and Karunanidhi was arrested.[22]

Rise to power[edit]

Karunanidhi was first elected to the Tamil Nadu assembly in 1957 from the Kulithalai assembly of Thiruchirapalli district. He became the DMK treasurer in 1961 and deputy leader of opposition in the state assembly in the year 1962 and when the DMK came to power in 1967, he became the minister for public works. When Annadurai expired in 1969, Karunanidhi became the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu and the first leader of DMK, since the leader post was left vacant for Periyar when Annadurai was alive (Annadurai was the general secretary only). He has held various positions in the party and government during his long career in Tamil Nadu political arena. However, he suffered multiple electoral defeats against his primary opponent M.G.Ramachandran’s ADMK until the latter’s death in 1987.

After a brief stint as Chief Minister during the late 1980s (his government was dismissed by the Central government on accusations of degrading Law and Order situation in the state), Karunanidhi became the CM of Tamil Nadu in 1996 following a sweeping electoral win in the preceding elections. Following a 5-year rule, his party again lost at the elections to J. Jayalalithaa‘s AIADMK in 2001. He was however back in power when he took over as chief Minister of Tamil Nadu on 13 May 2006 after his coalition defeated his main opponent J. Jayalalithaa in the May 2006 elections.[23] He currently represents the constituency of Tiruvarur in the Tamil Nadu state Legislative Assembly. He has been elected to the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly 12 times and once to the now abolished Tamil Nadu Legislative Council. At the end of the 5-year administration, the DMK lost the majority of seats in the legislative assembly of Tamil Nadu when elections were held in 2011, thereby ceding power again to the AIADMK under J. Jayalalithaa.

Editor and publisher[edit]

He started Murasoli on 10 August 1942. He was the founding editor and publisher of Murasoli during his boyhood as a monthly, then a weekly, and now a daily. He used his talents as a journalist and cartoonist to bring issues relevant to his political ideology before the public. He writes daily letters addressed to his party workers by name; he has been writing these for over 50 years. In addition he has served as editor for Kudiyarasu and gave life to the journal Mutharam. He is the founder of State Governments News Reel, Arasu Studio and also the Government Journal Tamil Arasu, published in Tamil and English.

World Tamil Conference[edit]

He delivered the special address on the inaugural day of 3rd World Tamil Conference held in Paris in 1970, and also on the inaugural day of 6th World Tamil Conference held in Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) in 1987. He penned the song “Semmozhiyaana Tamizh Mozhiyaam“, the official theme song for the World Classical Tamil Conference 2010, that was set to tune by A. R. Rahman.[24]

Awards and titles[edit]

  • Annamalai University awarded him an honorary doctorate in 1971.[25]
  • He was awarded “Raja Rajan Award” by Tamil University, Thanjavur for his book “Thenpandi Singam”.[25]
  • On 15 December 2006, the Governor of Tamil Nadu and the Chancellor of Madurai Kamaraj University, Surjit Singh Barnala conferred an honorary doctorate on the Chief Minister on the occasion of the 40th annual convocation.
  • In June 2007,[26][27][28] the Tamil Nadu Muslim Makkal Katchi announced that it would confer the title ‘Friend of the Muslim Community’ (‘Yaaran-E-Millath’) upon M. Karunanidhi.


He has been indicted by the Sarkaria commission for corruption in allotting tenders for the Veeranam project.[29] Indira Gandhi dismissed the Karunanidhi government based on charges of possible secession and corruption. In 2001 Karunanidhi, former chief secretary, K.A. Nambiar, and a host of others were arrested on charges of corruption in the construction of flyovers in Chennai.[30] He and his party members were also charged under Sections 120(b) (criminal conspiracy), 167 (public servant framing an incorrect document with intent to cause injury), 420 (cheating) and 409 (criminal breach of trust) of the IPC, and Section 13 (2) read with 13 (1)(d) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, but no prima facie evidence was found against him and his son M K Stalin.[31][citation needed]

Desecrating Hindu Gods[edit]

Karunanidhi and senior party members reportedly[citation needed] participated in a rally in Villupuram on 15 September 2012, to celebrate the DMK founding day, where they were reportedly received by a group of dancers made up as Hindu gods.[citation needed] Dressed in costumes depicting Shiva, Parvathy, Murugan and Vinayaka, the dancers put up a show for this group of “atheist” leaders.[citation needed] This development has not gone down well with the Hindu leaders with the TN Hindu Maha Sabha president K. Srikandan sending a petition to the chief minister’s cell and the director general of police, demanding the arrest of rally organiser K. Ponmudy and other office-bearers of the DMK under the National Security Act. Karunanidhi and the DMK leaders have been criticized by Hindu outfits and Casteist organizations for following the rationalistic principles of Periyar E.V.Ramasamy which emphasize on abolition of caste and religious superstitions.[32]

Ram Setu remarks[edit]

In response to the Sethusamudram controversy, Karunanidhi questioned the existence of the Hindu God Rama. He asked:

Some say there was a person over 1.7 million years ago. His name was Rama. Do not touch the bridge (Ramar Sethu) constructed by him. Who is this Rama? From which engineering college did he graduate? Is there any proof for this?[33]

His remarks caused a firestorm of controversy. BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad accused Karunanidhi of religious discrimination when noting “We would like to know from Karunanidhi if he would make a similar statement against religious head of any other religion; chance are he may not.”[34]

Nationalist Congress Party spokesman D. P. Tripathi said, “Where is the need of asking for evidence on the existence of Ram when lots of people have unreserved faith in him?”[35]

In response to these statements, Karunanidhi defiantly stated, “Anyway, neither Valmiki nor Ram is here now [to vouch for claims of Ram’s existence]. There is only a group that thinks of people as fools. They will be proved wrong.”[35]

Several days later, he commented:

I have not said anything more than Valmiki, who authored Ramayana. Valmiki had even stated that Rama was a drunkard. Have I said so?[36] Further adding: “Even my god is Ramasami

Connections with LTTE[edit]

The interim report of Justice Jain Commission, which oversaw the investigation into Rajiv Gandhi‘s assassination, indicted Karunanidhi for abetting the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).[37] The interim report recommended that Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi and the DMK party be held responsible for abetting Rajiv Gandhi’s murderers. The final report contained no such allegations.[38] In April 2009, in an interview to NDTV, Karunanidhi made a controversial remark stating that “Prabhakaran is my good friend” and also said, “India could not forgive the LTTE for assassinating Rajiv Gandhi”.[39][40]

Allegations of nepotism[citation needed][edit]

Karunanidhi has been accused by opponents, by some members of his party, and by other political observers of trying to promote nepotism[citation needed]. Many political opponents and DMK party senior leaders have been critical of the rise of M. K. Stalin in the party.[citation needed] But some of the party men have pointed out that Stalin has come up on his own. He has faced a lot of hardship since 1975, when he was jailed under the Maintenance of Internal Security Act (MISA) and was beaten up in jail so brutally during the Emergency that a fellow DMK party prisoner died trying to save him.[41] Stalin was an MLA in 1989 and 1996 when his father Karunanidhi was the Chief Minister, but he was not inducted into the Cabinet. He became Chennai’s 44th mayor and its first directly elected mayor in 1996. It was only in his fourth term as MLA that he was made a Minister in the Karunanidhi cabinet and then in 2009 was made the Deputy Chief Minister. His daughter Kanimozhi is a Rajya Sabha MP now.

Involvement in 2G Scam[edit]

As per the chargesheet filed by CBI, Kanimozhi has 100% stake in her family owned Kalaignar TV, her step-mother Dayalu Ammal owns 60% stake in the same channel. CBI alleges that Kanimozhi was an “active brain” behind the channel’s operations[48] and she worked along with former telecom minister A. Raja to get DB Realty promoter Shahid Balwa to circuitously route 2 billion (US$36.2 million) to Kalaignar TV. According to CBI, Kanimozhi was in regular touch with A Raja regarding launching of Kalaignar TV channel and its other pending works.[49] CBI alleges that A Raja was further pursuing the cause of Kalaignar TV not only for getting registration of the company from Ministry of Information and Broadcasting but also for getting it in the DTH operator TATA Sky’s bouquet. She was also summoned by the Income Tax Department, Chennai for alleged tax evasion charges.[49][citation needed]

On 3 July 2012, briefing the Joint parliamentary committee probing the scam, ED claimed that it has enough evidence to convict DMK chief Karunanidhi’s wife and daughter Kanimozhi.[42][citation needed]

Elections contested and positions held[edit]

Year Constituency Result Vote percentage Opposition Candidate Opposition Party Opposition vote percentage
1957 Kulithalai Won K. A. Dharmalingam INC
1962 Thanjavur Won A. Y. S. Parisutha Nadar INC
1967 Saidapet Won S. G. Vinayagamurthy INC
1971 Saidapet Won N. Kamalingam INC
1977 Anna Nagar Won 50.1 G. Krishnamurthy ADMK 30.98[43]
1980 Anna Nagar Won 48.97 H.V.Hande ADMK 48.31[43]
1989 Harbour Won 59.76 K.A.Wahab Muslim League 13.84[44]
1991 Harbour Won 48.66 K. Suppu ADMK 47.26[44]
1996 Chepauk Won 77.05 N.S. Nellai Kannan INC 17.24[45]
2001 Chepauk Won 51.91 R. Damodharan INC 43.5[45]
2006 Chepauk Won 50.96 Dawood Miah Khan Independent 38.25[45]
2011 Thiruvarur Won 62.9 M. Rajendran ADMK 33.93[46]
2016 Thiruvarur Won R. Pannerselvam ADMK

Posts in legislature[edit]

Assembly From To Position Party – Number of seats
/Seats contested
Third Assembly 1962 1967 Deputy Leader of the Opposition 50/143[47]
Fourth Assembly 1967 1969 State Minister for Public Works 138/233[48]
Fourth Assembly 10 February 1969 5 January 1971 Chief Minister (1)[49] 136/233[50]
Fifth Assembly 15 March 1971 31 January 1976 Chief Minister (2)[49] 182/203[51]
Sixth Assembly 25 July 1977 17 February 1980 Leader of the Opposition (1)[49] 48/230[52]
Seventh Assembly 27 June 1980 18 August 1983 Leader of the Opposition (2)[49] 37/112[53]
Ninth Assembly 27 January 1989 30 January 1991 Chief Minister (3)[49] 150/202[54]
Eleventh Assembly 13 May 1996 14 May 2001 Chief Minister (4)[49] 173/182[55]
Thirteenth Assembly 13 May 2006 14 May 2011 Chief Minister (5)[49] 96/132[56]
Fourteenth Assembly 16 May 2011 Present MLA 23/124

See also[edit]

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Indian Politician
Muthuvel Karunanidhi is an Indian politician who has served as Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu on five separate occasions. He is the head of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, a Dravidian political party in the state of Tamil Nadu. Wikipedia
Born: June 3, 1924 (age 92), Thirukkuvalai
Karunanidhi wrote the story for and Jayalalithaa appears in Mani Makudam.
M. K. Stalin is Karunanidhi's son. Karunanidhi wrote and M. K. Stalin appears in Ore Ratham.
M. K. Stalin
Kanimozhi is Karunanidhi's daughter.
M. K. Alagiri is Karunanidhi's son.
M. K. Alagiri
Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, Maharashtra – From your Internet address – Use precise location
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