It was a function attended by top leaders including Rahul Gandhi and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar to honour DMK Chief Karunanidhi, but the man of the moment was himself absent due to health issues. Thousands of party workers and supporters gathered today at the event to mark Karunanidhi’s 60 years of service as a legislator, coinciding with his 94th birthday. While leader after leader heaped encomiums on the five-time Chief Minister, Karunanidhi was, however, confined to his Gopalapuram residence. His health did not permit him to be wheel-chaired into the dais that was designed like the state Secretariat.
Karunanidhi’s absence, however, did not come as a surprise as his son and DMK Working President MK Stalin had stated earlier that his father’s participation in the function was subject to doctors’ approval. Karunanidhi had undergone a tracheotomy procedure in December last year to improve breathing and has not made any public appearance since then.
The DMK President was earlier admitted to hospital for some drug-induced allergy also. DMK sources said Karunanidhi’s participation in today’s function was always in doubt for fears of contracting the infection.
General Secretaries of CPI (M) and CPI, Sitaram Yechury and S Sudhakar Reddy, TMC MP Derek O’ Brien and Puducherry Chief Minister V Narayanasamy, among others, participated in the event.
Karunanidhi made his Assembly debut in 1957 from Kulithalai in then undivided Tiruchirappalli. Meanwhile, a video that went viral on social media showed the DMK supremo’s daughter Selvi cutting a birthday cake and feeding him and his wife Dayalu.