New Delhi: The senior BJP MP and former union minister Dr Subramanian Swamy and the DMK patriarch M Karunanidhi had shared a stormy relationship. According to Dr Swamy, they had shared a healthy relationship till 1991 post which they fell apart.
Speaking to News18 Dr Swamy said that Karunanidhi was a great organiser who spoke beautiful Tamil. But added that he was unscrupulous and terribly insecure.
“It is a fact that he was a great organiser. He was good at that. He also had one more quality. His command over Tamil. He spoke beautiful Tamil. Besides these things, he was completely unscrupulous and terribly insecure,” he said.
According to him their first meeting took place in 1974, a year before the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi clamped Emergency. Dr Swamy was young and famous for radical economic ideas and speeches in the Parliament. Karunanidhi was curious about this young Harvard educated, Tamilian MP of the Jana Sangh and wanted to meet him.
Swamy agreed to that and met him with a few other Jana Sangh leaders. “He was the chief minister of Tamil Nadu then. During those days the RSS had a newspaper called “Mother Land”. I asked Karunanidhi if he could give us some advertisements. Everybody was shocked. How could an Aryan party MP ask a Dravidian party chief minister for newspaper advertisements. But Karunanidhi was helpful. He immediately agreed and gave “Mother Land” substantial amount through government advertisements,” Dr Swamy remembered.
During the Emergency Karunanidhi was scared that the Prime Minister Indira Gandhi would dismiss his government in Tamil Nadu. But he refused to arrest the anti-Emergency leaders as long as he was the chief minister. As expected, Indira Gandhi dismissed his government later, said Swamy.
“After the Emergency I again met him. I was an Emergency hero. Karunanidhi was impressed by me. He wanted me to contest in the 1977 Lok Sabha elections from Madras South. I was willing to consider his offer. But the great Carnatic singer MS Subbulakshmi was a family friend of mine. She wanted Rajmohan Gandhi to contest from there. She requested me not to contest from Madras South. Morarji Desai wanted me to contest from Bombay. I agreed to that and went there. When Karunanidhi came to know about this, he got angry. He told me that he was not going to field Rajmohan Gandhi. He had something against him. Finally his nephew Murasoli Maran was fielded and he lost to R Venkataraman of the Congress, who later became the President of India. If I had contested, I would have defeated him. Anyway, I won from Bombay,” Dr Swamy said.
According to him, LTTE and Jayalalithaa issues widened the gap between Swamy and the DMK leader. “When the Tamil issue was raging in Sri Lanka in the 1980s, Karunanidhi had formed a committee under his chairmanship. Pro-India Tamil leader Sri Sabaratnam of Tamil Eelam Liberation Organisation (TELO) was trained by Indira Gandhi and he was also a part of it. Me, Anbazhagan and Veeramani of Dravida Kalagam (DK) were members. A Brahmin sitting with them and discussing the Tamil issue was something unusual. Later Sabaratnam was killed by the LTTE and I realised that Karunanidhi was backing the LTTE. I was dead against V Prabhakaran and his most brutal LTTE. I walked out and rarely met him after that,” Dr Swamy said.
“When Chandrashekhar formed the government in 1991, I became a top minister with Law and Commerce portfolios. I got the Karunanidhi government dismissed for actively supporting the LTTE and made sure that there was no incident anywhere in Tamil Nadu. It had angered him a lot and after that we hardly met,” he said.
According to Dr Swamy, his courageous fight against Jayalalithaa’s corrupt regime between 1991 and 1996 made Karunanidhi nervous. “Till then he was not worried much. When I took on Jayalalithaa without fear, he felt that I had become too big. He was terribly insecure. He did not want me to be the principal opponent of Jayalalithaa in Tamil Nadu and started hating me more. He once told the late Congress leader GK Moopanar that I was a Brahmin who could take the entire state, if I get an inch. Suddenly I was transformed into a Tamil personality. He hated the Brahmins and was not ready to stomach the fact I exposed Jayalalithaa and made her go to jail,” he said.
Swamy said that the rift widened because of his fight against Sethu Samudram project and his fight against Karunanidhi’s party members’ rampant corruption. “He encouraged large scale corruption both in Tamil Nadu and New Delhi. I was dead against such things. Naturally, we rarely met since 1991,” Swamy remembers.
Dr Swamy thinks that Karunanidhi’s son and successor MK Stalin is also a good organiser, but he lacks the oratorical skills of his father. He feels that the caste based politics will dominate Tamil Nadu in the post Karunanidhi era and the Thevar caste leaders like Sasikala Natarajan and her nephew TTV Dinakaran will become the main players.
“The BJP can prevent this by launching a Hindutva politics in Tamil Nadu. Unfortunately, the people who are running the BJP affairs in TN are not so capable,” he said.