Veteran Indian politician M Karunanidhi dies at 94

Published: August 07, 2018 20:54:57 | Updated: August 08, 2018 17:31:24

Veteran Indian politician Muthuvel Karunanidhi has died at the age of 94.

He was being treated for age-related illnesses in Chennai (formerly Madras) in southern India's Tamil Nadu state.

Mr Karunanidhi served as the chief minister of Tamil Nadu five times between 1969 and 2011, and also played a key role in federal politics. He contested - and won - 13 elections in the state.

A school dropout, he made his name as a successful scriptwriter in Tamil films, reports BBC.

Police have increased security in Chennai amid fears of unrest among his supporters, who have gathered in the streets in large numbers.

Mr Karunanidhi died at 18:10 local time (12:40 GMT) on Tuesday, the Kauvery Hospital in Chennai said.

He was active in politics until his death and most recently contested the 2016 state assembly against his long-time opponent and bitter rival Jayaram Jayalalitha, who died later that year.

An atheist and self-declared rationalist, Mr Karunanidhi rose to political prominence in the 1940s as part of the Dravidian movement - which challenged the supremacy of upper caste Brahmins - and through his participation in anti-Hindi language agitations.

A prolific writer and a fiery speaker known for his wit and oratory, he enjoyed god-like status among his supporters.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has led tributes to the veteran leader.

The hashtag #RIPKalaignar is also gaining traction on Twitter. Kalaignar means artist in Tamil, and the reference is a nod to his widely recognised contributions to film and literature.

"His popularity was rooted in his longevity. He's been a witness to everything that's happened in the state in the past six or seven decades," newspaper columnist Bhaskaran Krishnamurthy earlier told the BBC.

"He transformed Tamil literature, he's written stories, plays and poems, he's a reformist, he's the only leader of his stature."

Share if you like