DMK old-timers in Madurai turn nostalgic over M Karunanidhi

Mani said Karunanidhi had toured most of the interior villages in this region when he mobilised funds for the party in early 50s.

Madurai: In what is believed to be his first flight to Madurai for an election campaign, DMK chief M. Karunanidhi left many of his followers disappointed on his arrival as airport security personnel prevented them from getting close to him, unlike his usual arrivals at railway station that used to be marked by grand receptions. “We called it as railadi varaverpu (railway station reception),” said former DMK MLA, Pon.Muthuramalingam. “I used to hold the hands of thalaivar for a few minutes when he came by train for campaign’” recalled Thirumalai (70), a retired police personnel from Sithalai village near Thirumangalam.

Thousands of party cadre, along with folk dance troupes, would be at the railway station, which would will turn into a festival venue. “Karunanidhi would patiently exchange pleasantries with all DMK cadre before he left for the hotel, “said Muthuramalingam. Then, other cadre would wait for him on the roads to hand over money only to Karunanidhi for election fund. “That was the confidence he had among the cadre,” he said.

Today, many senior party cadre could just manage to see Karunanidhi’s face. But they were overwhelmed by his commitment to DMK’s growth even at the age of 92. “You can’t find leaders campaigning at this age,” said 95-year-old Mani, who was the first DMK treasurer in Madurai. As Karunanidhi drove out of airport, hundreds of party cadre who lined up on the roadside from the airport, braving the hot sun, had a glimpse of their leader .

Hitherto, Karunanidhi had come to Madurai for campaigning only by train or road with a view to developing a rapport with cadre who accompanied him. Old-timers also recount that Karunanidhi always paid special attention to Madurai because he considered people in this region as politically active. “If the high command organised any protest across the State, Kalaignar would ask for the number of participants from Madurai,” said a group of senior party leaders.

Mani said Karunanidhi had toured most of the interior villages in this region when he mobilised funds for the party in early 50s.”It was not like today. He would address political meetings standing atop hand-pulled rickshaws. He spoke for more than an hour in temple streets where college professors and students would gather in large numbers to listen to him.”

After the meetings, Karunanidhi would request people to donate for the party and the entire collection wouldn’t exceed Rs 30,” recalled Mani. “I have seen Karunanidhi coming all the way from Chennai to our village Melaurappanur village to collect party funds from my father,” said M Sivamurugan, DMK State executive committee member.

When Karunanidhi visited Madurai by car to address meetings, party cadre would take pictures posing along with him in front of the vehicle. Karunanidhi, who developed a party base in Madurai with the active support of Muthu, the first Mayor of Madurai corporation, would always prefer to stay in Mani Cafe when he visited the city. He relished 'mutton pakoda’ from Ceylon Saudhique shop located close to the hotel, said Muthuramalingam.

DMK cadre remember their leader arriving by flight in the city to attend the funeral of former Minister P.T.R. Palanivel Rajan 10 years ago. Today, among those for whom he canvassed votes was Thiagarajan, son of Palanivel Rajan in Madurai Central.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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