Chennai, June 11 (IANS) As the DMK patriarch, Muthuvel Karunanidhi had sworn time and again that he stood for equity and uplift of the downtrodden and poor.
That image took a beating when the high-end corruption charges against the DMK leaders A. Raja, Kanimozhi Karunanidhi and Dayanidhi Maran rocked Manmohan Singh’s UPA-2 government. And his daughter Kanimozhi’s arrest shattered him privately.
In the Rs 1.75 lakh crore telecom spectrum scam, the then telecom minister A. Raja was an accused and arrested and jailed. This was a major setback for the DMK as the party had always claimed of its high ideals and working with the downtrodden. In fact the charges against Kanimozhi – his daughter and Dayanidhi Maran – his nephew – led to the belief that all was not well within the DMK and the Karunanidhi family.
The high ideals and revolutionary thoughts aired by the veteran leader faced a setback following the central agencies charging the DMK leaders. The arrest and subsequent jail term for his daughter Kanimozhi left Karunanidhi, in particular, a lonely man as all his tall claims of being a champion for the rights of the poor and the ideals he set for himself and the party fell flat on his face.
While Karunanidhi could wriggle out from the issue claiming that he was not a direct party to the corruption charges as he was not directly involved, the arrest of his daughter led to the opposition tearing the veteran leader apart.
Interestingly A. Raja was handpicked by Karunanidhi to be a minister in the Manmohan Singh government and was allocated the prestigious portfolio of telecommunication.
There were criticisms that it was Raja who was responsible for filling the coffers of the DMK and also the first family of the DMK (Read Karunanidhi’s family). A. Raja was close to Kanimozhi and climbed the political ladder in the DMK very easily.
Raja was arrested on February 2, 2011 and got bail from the trial court on May 12, 2012, in the 2G spectrum allocation scam. Meanwhile, Kanimozhi who was arrested on May 21, 2011 was released on bail on November 28, 2011. The arrest and subsequent jail term of Kanimozhi was one of the biggest setbacks in the political life of the veteran leader and as per sources in the DMK, he was a broken man those days.
It may be noted that Karunanidhi had tried to arm-twist the Congress leadership by getting five cabinet berths for the DMK in the UPA-2 government and this has not gone down well with the Congress leadership. This was one reason, the Congress did not show much solidarity with either Raja or Kanimozhi even though they were part and parcel of the UPA leadership.
In addition to the charges against Raja and Kanimozhi, the DMK patriarch had another major setback when the CBI registered a case against his nephew Dayanidhi Maran who was Union telecom minister in the UPA-1 government of Manmohan Singh.
The charge was that he had installed private telephone exchanges at his residence for the benefit of the private Sun TV network owned by his family. There were charges that over 700 high speed telecom lines for which bills were not raised by the BSNL were installed leading to a loss of revenue for the exchequer.
Even as the Maran brothers denied the charges against them, the people had a feeling that Karunanidhi and his family were mired in corruption and that the family was using the goodwill and political clout of the veteran leader.
B. Vasanthakumar, social activist and Director of Socio Economic Development Foundation, a think tank based out of Madurai while speaking to IANS said, “M. Karunaidhi had a goodwill among the public but the family comprising of the Maran brothers and his daughter Kanimozhi’s alleged involvement in several deals is nothing but a black mark on the veteran leader and his political image which he had carefully cultivated over the years.”
He also said that Karunanidhi was a champion of the downtrodden and his policies and programmes as Chief Minister were intended to alleviate the difficulties of the poor and downtrodden. All his policies and programmes were intended to uplift the misery of the poor and hapless and he has envisaged several schemes that helped Tamil Nadu climb the human index graph among other states of the country and the veteran leader had a major role to play in this uplift of the state.
With Karunanidhi being the final word in the DMK scheme of things, there was little criticism coming from within the party, and most of the leaders remained mute spectators.
The DMK and Karunanidhi have however had a grip on the poor and the downtrodden who believe that the party has done everything to them and that almost all the welfare schemes implemented in the state had a signature of Karunanidhi. The larger-than-life image of Karunanidhi in Tamil Nadu has helped him get away with the corruption allegations against his family members and party colleagues like A. Raja.