Parliament adjourns as mark of respect to Karunanidhi

Indian MP Kannimozhi (3rd L in yellow) of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagham (DMK) party looks at the body of her father and DMK party president Muthuvel Karunanidhi, as others gather to pay respects to him, at Rajaji hall in Chennai on August 8, 2018. Karunanidhi, a charismatic self-styled champion of the poor, died on August 7 after being in intensive care since July 28 in the capital of Tamil Nadu state. / AFP PHOTO / Arun SANKAR
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In a break from tradition, both Houses of Parliament were adjourned for the day today as a mark of respect to DMK chief M Karunanidhi who died last evening. The 94-year-old DMK patriarch served as the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu for five times but was never a member of Parliament. Glowing tributes were paid to the departed leader in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, before the Houses were adjourned for the day.

There is no precedent of adjourning the House in case the departed leader is not a sitting or former member of the House. It is a Parliament convention to adjourn the day for deceased sitting members, Parliament officials said. However, before the proceedings commenced today, Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu consulted senior leaders of various political parties for their views on adjourning the proceedings of the House for the day.

He sought to know their views as there was no precedent of adjourning the House in case the departed leader was not a sitting or former member of the House, the officials said. They said all those who participated in the meeting said Karunanidhi was one of the tallest leaders of the country and favoured adjournment of the proceedings.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar also said the government was in favour of adjournment. The views were also conveyed to the Lok Sabha Speaker, the officials said. As soon as the Lok Sabha met for the day, Speaker Sumitra Mahajan informed members about the demise of Karunanidhi.

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Describing him as a “visionary” and a “leader of the masses”, she said he had spread his political philosophy through screen writing and produced some of the best hits in Tamil cinema. During his “illustrious political career”, Karunanidhi “ably showcased his admirable leadership qualities and worked relentlessly for the cause of the people, particularly the marginalised and the downtrodden sections of society,” Mahajan said. After observing a moment of silence in his memory, the Lok Sabha proceedings were adjourned for the day.

In the Rajya Sabha, the Chairman read out an obituary reference, describing Karunanidhi as a multi-faceted personality and a gritty figure who overcame difficulties. Beginning his career as a screen play writer, Karunanidhi used Tamil cinema to propagate Dravidian ideology and contributed to Tamil culture, he said.

Karunanidhi entered politics at a very young age and was a member of the Tamil Nadu Assembly for a record 13 times, being elected from seven different constituencies, he said. In 1969, he became the third Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu and went on to serve the state as its head for five terms.

He played a key role in scripting the development of Tamil Nadu, Naidu said, adding in his death the country lost an eminent litterateur, an able administrator, a dedicated social worker and an outstanding statesman.

The members stood in silence as a mark of respect to the departed soul, following which Naidu adjourned the proceedings for the day. Earlier at the meeting, the parliamentary affairs minister sought the cooperation of all parties in both Houses in passing important pending Bills like the one relating to Prevention of Atrocities against SCs and STs in the Rajya Sabha, if required, by dispensing with the Zero Hour and private members bills, the officials said.

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