Chennai, Aug 7: Five time Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and DMK president M Karunanidhi died in private Kauvery Hospital at 6.10 pm, 20 minutes before the expiry of the 24-hour deadline fixed by doctors.
He died the way he lived, fighting till the last breath. Karunanidhi, 94, was probably the senior-most political leader in the country.
Leading the country in paying homage to Karunanidhi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi described him as “a great leader”. Modi is expected to attend the funeral on Wednesday.
West Bengal Chief Miniser Mamata Banerjee left Kolkatta on Tuesday evening and reached Chennai around 9 p.m. She visited Karunanidhi’s Gopalapuram residence and paid her last respects.
Karunanidhi’s children M K Stalin and Kanimozhi, who had been with him all the eight days he had been in the hospital, left for their residence half before he breathed his last to make arrangements for his last journey. The last relative to visit him was his Bengaluru-based daughter Selvi.
All his relatives gathered in his Gopalapuram residence where the body was taken .
The last political leader to visit the hospital was MDMK chief Vaiko who had started his career in the DMK and was three time Rajya Sabha member of that party before he floated his own party in 1993. To ensure that Karunanidhi had a peaceful last journey, as Jayalalitha had, the police have been amassed in the city
In a bid to prevent cadres in thousands rushing to Chennai to have a glimpse of their leader, the Government suspended long-distance bus services from the southern districts. But some might take the trains to reach the city.
The Government does not want a repeat of what happened when veteran Congress leader K Kamaraj and DMK founder C N Annadurai died. Several party men died in the stampede outside the Rajaji Hall and many more travelling on roof tops of trains also died.
The police have already taken control of the Rajaji Hall where Karunanidhi will lie in state on Wednesday to enable the public to pay their homage.
His final resting place remains a question mark. DMK Deputy leader in the assembly, Durai Murugan sought permission to bury Karunanidhi alongside DMK founder C N Annadurai in the memorial in the Marina.
Karunanidhi’s last wish was to die in harness. That was not to be as the DMK lost in a close contest with the AIADMK in 2016. That was one of the factors which led to the decline in his health and his eventual retirement from public life which hastened his end.