Special Correspondent

CHENNAI: The Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam under former Chief Minister M.G.Ramachandran came close to merging with the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, Chief Minister M.Karunanidhi said here on Tuesday. But, a leader who was then with the ADMK, Panruti Ramachandran, spoilt it, he added. Elaborating on the episode that was touched upon by Dravidar Kazhagam general secretary K.Veeramani at a function to give away Murasoli Trust awards, Mr.Karunanidhi said that Orissa leader Biju Patnaik had acted as the mediator between him and MGR.

This was during MGR’s first term as Chief Minister.

Mr.Karunanidhi said that Biju Patnaik was quite close to him and he used to discuss many issues with the leader. Patnaik brought up the issue of the merger and Mr.Karunanidhi said that he enquired as to where the suggestion had come from. Patnaik said that MGR wanted a merger and wanted to know what conditions that Mr.Karunanidhi would put forth.

Mr.Karunanidhi said that he had three conditions: one, the name would remain DMK since it was the name that Anna (C.N.Annadurai, former Chief Minister) had given the party. Two, the picture of Anna on the flag of the ADMK should be retained; if he took the picture off the flag he would be accused of not being faithful to Anna’s legacy. Three, he wanted the Rs.9000-limit for reservation (economic criterion) to go. Mr.Karunanidhi said that he would continue as party head and had no objection to MGR continuing as Chief Minister. “Hearing these conditions, Patnaik hugged me and told me that he thought I would set impossible conditions.”

A while later, Patnaik brought MGR to the Chepauk Guest House. ADMK leaders Nedunchezhian and Panruti Ramachandran (now with the DMDK) were with him. Mr.Karunanidhi also was at the Guest House. MGR walked into Mr.Karunanidhi’s room and enquired after him. “He used to call me Bhagawanae [God] or Muthalali [owner],” Mr.Karunanidhi said and added that the meeting was very cordial. It was decided that MGR would convene a meeting of the executive council of his party near Vellore the next day and that Mr.Karunanidhi conduct a similar exercise here in Chennai. Appropriate resolutions were to be passed on the merger.

“He left for Vellore after this meeting. I do not know what happened to him in the car. An undesirable person got into his ear and told him many things,” Mr.Karunanidhi said and added that Panruti Ramachandran was in the car.