As party patriarch celebrates his 91st birthday

Hinting at major changes to set right organisational issues post the Lok Sabha election debacle, DMK president M. Karunanidhi said on Tuesday night that the remedies proposed would make the party “shine like a diamond” again.

Addressing a public meeting organised to mark his 91st birthday, Mr. Karunanidhi said the grievances of partymen had indeed reached him and other senior leaders, including treasurer M.K. Stalin. They were analysed threadbare, and it was decided to make the announcement on the changes after the brainstorming at the June 2 meeting of the party’s high-power strategy committee.

However, keeping in mind his birthday celebrations, the leaders authorised Mr. Karunanidhi and party general secretary K. Anbazhagan to make public these measures a little later.

“I can understand the question you are asking through your gazes. All grievances that have come to the party leadership have been taken note of,” he told the audience on the YMCA grounds.

Seeking the media’s cooperation, he said it was unfortunate that some media houses were trying to undermine the DMK. The party, he said, had always supported journalists whenever press freedom had been compromised. But if the current situation continued, the party might not be in a position to come to the rescue of the media in future. This would be a “danger for democracy and freedom of speech,” he pointed out.

Mr. Karunanidhi said that during the AIADMK regime, there was a slump in Tamil Nadu’s economy. The GDP growth during 2010-2011 was 13.12 per cent, but it dropped to 4.14 per cent in 2012-2013. The people voted for change, anticipating a robust economic growth; now, it was time for them to introspect whether such a change had indeed taken place.

In his speech, Mr. Stalin said the DMK had faced electoral defeats in the past and had always come out stronger from such setbacks.

Earlier in the day, thousands of party workers thronged Anna Arivalayam, the DMK headquarters, to have a glimpse of their leader and wish him on his birthday. Mr. Karunanidhi also received greetings from Governor K. Rosaiah and celebrities such as actor Rajinikanth, who spoke to him on the phone.

Mr. Karunanidhi began the day with the customary planting of saplings at his CIT colony residence, where MPs, senior partymen and former Ministers, including T.R. Baalu, and his daughter Kanimozhi greeted him.

Later, he drove down to his Gopalapuram residence, where other seniors, including Mr. Anbazhagan, wished him. The former Union Minister, Dayanidhi Maran, was among those who later joined a quiet family re-union at his Gopalapuram residence.

The DMK leader, accompanied by scores of party functionaries and Mr. Stalin, also paid homage at the memorials of DMK founder-leader C.N. Annadurai and social reformer Periyar in the morning before proceeding to the party headquarters to meet his partymen and well- wishers.

(With additional reporting by M.R. Venkatesh)

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