The Church remembers Kalaignar Karunanidhi, the "towering Dravidian icon"

The enigmatic, Dravida Munnetra Kazhakam(DMK) leader, Muthuvel Karunanidhi, who breathed his last, a day before, has always had a soft spot for the religious minorities of Tamil Nadu.

Though an atheist, Karunanidhi, reverently called 'Kalaignar' by his cadres, was a strong opponent of the conversion laws.

Fr. Vincent Chinnadurai, former chairman of the TN state's Minorities Commission, remembers that the leader gave “special reservations for low-caste Christians in education institutions and government jobs”.

Mentioning that Karunanidhi's death was a big loss to religious minorities and the Dalits, Bishop Ezra Sargunam of the Evangelical Church of India, said that 'Kalaignar' “really cared for the poor and came up with various schemes for helping poor and minority groups.” “He was a real champion of social justice'” he remarked.

Bishop Sargunam continued to say that Karunanaidhi “was the chief architect of the rationalist Self-Respect Movement in the state that emboldened socially poor people to assert their human rights beyond the consideration of caste and religion”.

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI), condoled the death of this great Dravidian icon, in a press release on August 7.

“CBCI places on record its appreciation for the immense contribution made by M Karunanidhi, to the state of Tamil Nadu and to the country. This towering Dravidian icon with great intellectual prowess and pragmatism shaped the political narrative in Tamil Nadu over the past few decades and worked hard to uplift the common man,” the press release by Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas read.

“We will remember with affection this tall personality, who with his work especially as the Chief Minister of the state of Tamil Nadu, for five separate terms, during the 1969 –2011 period has carved a special place for himself in the hearts of millions of people. We mourn his loss and express our gratitude for all the support and encouragement he gave the Christian community and its activities.”

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