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Kovind unveils portrait of late Karunanidhi in TN Assembly

Kovind, here to attend the Centenary celebrations of the Tamil Nadu Legislature, unveiled the former DMK president's portrait in the presence of state Governor Banwarilal Purohit and Chief Minister M K Stalin, also the son of Karunanidhi.

Kovind unveils portrait of late Karunanidhi in TN Assembly
A screen grab from the video
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President Ram Nath Kovind on Monday paid rich tributes to DMK stalwart and former Chief Minister, the late M Karunanidhi, hailing him for devoting his entire life for the people's cause and said he has left a ''defining stamp'' on Tamil Nadu.

Unveiling Karunanidhi's portrait in the state Assembly, which also has those of saint-poet Thiruvalluvar, Mahatma Gandhi, state stalwarts including late chief ministers K Kamaraj, CN Annadurai, MG Ramachandran and J Jayalalithaa, Kovind said ''now this hall of fame will also have the portrait of Thiru Karunanidhi...'' His ''entire life was devoted to the people's cause in the state,'' the President said at the event, attended by Tamil Nadu Governor Banwarilal Purohit, Chief Minister M K Stalin, Karunanidhi's son and Assembly Speaker M Appavu.

Unveiling of Karunanidhi's portrait coincided with the Centenary celebrations of the Tamil Nadu Legislature but main opposition, AIADMK boycotted the event alleging 'twisting' of history by the ruling DMK, claiming the state legisalture was not 100 years old as was being made out to be.

Tracing Karunanidhi's political life, Kovind recalled the former started off in his early teens, when the country's freedom movement was on ''and he left us only recently.'' ''When as a young boy fired by ideals he had started working for the downtrodden, India was in the shackles, exploited under foreign rule for long years, stricken by poverty and illiteracy.'' ''When he breathed his last, he must have been satisfied that this land and its people had made astounding progress and development on all fronts. He must have been satisfied too, as he spent every waking hour of his long and productive life in the service of the people of the state and also of the nation,'' Kovind said.

Describing the veteran Chakravarti Rajagopalachari as ''Gandhiji's conscience keeper'' and a titan among the freedom fighters and ''the first Indian occupant of the Rashtrapati Bhavan,'' Kovind said his presence graced this house too.

''He was the first Premier or Chief Minister of Madras State too. His successors too were exemplary political leaders. Among all Rajaji's successors, however, it is Shri Karunanidhi who ruled the longest and thus has left a defining stamp on Tamil Nadu,'' the President said.

On Karunanidhi's contribution to Tamil literature, the President said ''for him, his mother-tongue was the object of worship.'' Tamil is one of the greatest and the oldest languages of humankind and the whole world took pride in its rich heritage.

''But it was Karunanidhi who ensured that it was granted official recognition as a classical language.

Kalaignar (as he is fondly addressed) was a leader in a class of his own. He was among the last links we had with the stalwarts of our national movement,'' Kovind said.

Having first entered the state Assembly in 1957 from Kulithalai in Tiruchirappalli, Karunanidhi was elected to the House for a total of 13 times till 2016 and never suffered an electoral defeat. He died on August 7, 2018.

On the country's freedom movement, Kovind said ''our national movement spans from 1857, or even before, to 1947.'' ''During these decades, there were radicals and revolutionaries. There were pacifists and constitutionalists.

They had different methods and they had different visions.But they were united in their reverence for the motherland. Each, in his or her own way, strove to serve Bharat Mata,'' he said.

Speaking about the Madras Legislative Council, Kovind said it dates back to 1861 and that an advisory body set up back then bloomed into a law-making assembly in 1921.

''Under colonial rule, there were, of course, many limitations and challenges on the functioning of such a body.

Also, there were numerous separate constituencies based on caste, community and other parameters.'' ''Still, even if partial, it was a move towards a responsible government. Democracy, in its modern form, was returning to the land where it was practised centuries ago,'' he said.

It was a new beginning heralded by the people of the Madras Presidency, which included Tamil Nadu as well as parts of Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Odisha and Lakshadweep, he said.

''Dreams and aspirations of the people of these regions, shaped by the freedom movement, found an expression in the new Legislative Council,'' he added.

The council enacted many forward-looking legislations and also underwent many changes in its early decades and that spirit of democracy remains the guiding light of the state legislature, he said.

''It would not be wrong to say that this legislature became the fountainhead of many progressive legislations which were subsequently replicated across the country to empower the weaker sections of society and strengthen democracy,'' he said.

Governor Purohit said the state Assembly has a great history.

''Being one of the oldest and early Legislative Houses in the country, several landmark legislations have been introduced here..,'' he said.

Heaping praises on Karunanidhi, he said for a person to be CM of the state for five times and to win every election that he fought is ''indeed a remarkable achievement.'' ''Karunanidhi won the hearts of lakhs of people of Tamil Nadu, especially the poor and the downtrodden. He was rightly called people's chief minister,'' he added.

He also praised Karunanidhi's Samathuvapuram housing initiative, aimed at eradicating caste discrimination and said other states should have followed suit.

Stalin, in his address, said the legislature has introduced ''novel, pioneering schemes and enabled an egalitarian society'' such as ensuring rights for women in property, among others.

It was in this Assembly in the past that Madras Presidency was renamed Tamil Nadu when Annadurai was CM, he said.

He also recalled Karunanidhi's contribution to the development of Tamil Nadu in different spheres.

The main opposition, AIADMK, however, boycotted the event, saying the legislature was not century-old as being claimed.

Party spokesperson R M Babu Murugavel, said Tamil Nadu's first Assembly was in 1952.

Late chief minister J Jayalalithaa headed the diamond jubilee--60 years--celebrations of the House in 2012, he said.

''We boycotted protesting against the twisting of history,'' he told PTI.

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