At 90, Muthuvel Karunanidhi, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) patriarch is still a never-say-die man. He has now decided to hit the streets for the coming Lok Sabha elections, something more than a signal to his estranged elder son, M.K. Alagiri, who feared his leader was not in the know of the goings-on in the party.

The party patriarch’s campaign despite his advanced age will be a morale booster to the rank and file in coaxing them into election work, say DMK sources. And this time when he begins his campaign from Coimbatore on April 5, he will be one of the senior-most leaders to campaign in the Lok Sabha election in the country.

A frontline campaigner for the party ever since the DMK jumped into the electoral politics in 1957, Mr. Karunandhi, for the last six decades, has been untiringly shouldering the party’s reach-out to the people and mobilise support for the the DMK-led front’s nominees. Partymen concede that his campaign style always focuses on achieving the twin objectives of motivating the party cadres and attracting the voters.

Karunanidhi’s speech power has been his USP, standing in good mettle in campaigns and rallies ever since the party was launched in 1949. Though DMK had powerful orators in the likes of the late C. N. Annnadurai, V. R. Nedunchezhian, Prof. K. Anbazhagan and E. V. K. Sampath, Mr. Karunanidhi carved out a niche for himself with his direct, hard-hitting style peppered with earthy wit.

The DMK leader’s impressionistic voice in Tamil, aided by his sharp memory of men and matters makes him a crowd-puller, even to this day. The DMK thus gained by Mr. Karunanidhi’s rhetorical flourish.

During election periods, not a single day would pass without Mr. Karunanidhi addressing one meeting or the other. “He used to even address about ten wayside meetings apart from a couple of public meetings in a day, and he did it in style,” claims Rajasekar, a local DMK loyalist. And for the last five years, he has hopping stages on a wheelchair. For this once-ace scriptwriter of Tamil cinema, scripting from one platform to another comes with a natural ease. ‘Kalaignar’s (as Karunanidhi is popularly known) caravan moves on.

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