Chief Minister and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam president M. Karunanidhi on Tuesday used the centenary celebration of DMK founder and Tamil Nadu’s first non-Congress Chief Minister C.N. Annadurai to reiterate the relevance of State autonomy.

Presiding over the valedictory of the celebration, Mr. Karunanidhi appealed to Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, who earlier released a five-rupee coin issued in commemoration of Annadurai, to use his good offices in making State autonomy a reality.

“If not immediately, he [Mr. Mukherjee] should [at least in near future] clear all the obstacles to strengthening the powers of States and raising the status of regional languages and providing equal status to them at the Centre,” Mr. Karunanidhi said, receiving the coin from the Union Minister.

He recalled Mr. Mukherjee, who was then in Bangla Congress, strongly argued for giving greater powers to States at a conference on State autonomy organised by the DMK in Anna Nagar here in 1970.

The DMK leader also made it clear that his party was never against any language. “We are friends of all languages. We like all languages. At the same time, we emphasise that our language should be given its due place at the Centre.”

He recalled that the participants in the anti-Hindi agitation in 1937-38 [organised by the Justice Party] had only expressed their stand against the imposition of Hindi but not against the language per se.

Mr. Karunanidhi, who released the centenary souvenir, handed over a cheque for Rs. 50 lakh to Chief Secretary K.S. Sripathi for helping students of Arundathiyar community in pursuing engineering and medical courses. The amount, earned by the Chief Minister for writing screenplay and dialogues for the Tamil feature film “Pen Singam,” would be used through the Arundathiyar Welfare Board.

Paying encomiums to the former Chief Minister, the Union Finance Minister said Annadurai continued to be the role model of Indian politicians.

He was an excellent orator and a very distinguished Parliamentarian. The DMK founder based his political philosophy on the needs and aspirations of the downtrodden.

He commended Tamil Nadu for being one of the highest contributors to the country’s Gross Domestic Product though the State’s population accounted for only six per cent of the overall population.