Former DMK MP, M Ramanathan passed away in his native Coimbatore in the early hours of Friday due to age-related illness.He was 84 and is survived by wife and three sons.
Ramanathan represented Coimbatore West assembly constituency in 1984 and 1989 and was also member of Lok Sabha from 1996 to 1998.It was during his short term as MP that Coimbatore was rocked by communal violence in December 1997 and by serial blasts in February 1998 targeted at senior BJP leader L K Advani during his visit. His flight was delayed and he escaped.
The then Chief Minister M Karunanidhi at the behest of Ramanathan and local MLA C T Dandapani encouraged the terrorist outfit Al Ummah headed by S A Basha. After the blasts, Karunanidhi banned the outfit. Its members were sentenced to jail terms by a special court in Coimbatore later. But the stigma that Karunanidhi encouraged Islamist for votes led to the defeat of Ramanathan in the 1998 Lok Sabha polls and Dandapani in the 2001 Assembly elections.
In a condolence message, DMK president M K Stain said Ramanathan was associated with the DMK for 70 years and he had served as MP, MLA and MLC, besides as a member of the executive.