Karunanidhi back from black to white avatar

DMK patriarch M Karunanidhi has switched back to sporting his trademark white cotton shirts, in a sudden flip-flop over his sartorial assertion last week that he will “wear black shirts” for the rest of his life.

The dramatic change in his dress code was to protest the ruling AIADMK’s “anti-people policies” and the ‘repression’ it has let loose on the DMK, slamming a slew of cases against its senior party functionaries. The DMK chief had begun wearing ‘black shirts’, in a throw-back to his mother organisation Dravidar Kazhagam (DK) ‘black-shirts brigade days’ of the mid-1940s’. Last week, the DMK state executive had asked its cadres to wear ‘black shirts’, initially for a human-chain protest across the state.

Surprisingly, Karunanidhi had slipped into a ‘black shirt’ even a day ahead of their agitation, after the DMK was denied permission by the state police to ostage a human chain agitation against the AIADMK in this on-going tussle between the two major Dravidian parties.

‘Kalaignar’, as Karunanidhi is popularly known, had argued that the “denial of police permission had hurt him deeply”, adding, he will continue to sport only black shirts as long as he lived, and changed the form of the agitation to distributing pamphlets by his partymen against the AIADMK’s misrule “wearing black shirts”.

However, the ‘black shirts’ move triggered a wave of dissonance both within Karunanidhi’s family and a section of the Tamil intelligentia, sources told Deccan Herald on Tuesday. Some party seniors also felt that if the DMK’s leader continued to be in ‘black’, it could then dilute its independent political identity, vis-à-vis the DK, from which the DMK split in 1949 under late Annadurai’s leadership, particularly when elections are round the corner. 

Karunanidhi’s close family members were also worried that if he went to Delhi to meet UPA leaders in black attire, it might be mistakenly construed that the DMK leader was “in a permanent protest mode” against the Centre.

A section of the Tamil media also commented that Karunanidhi’s sartorial change-over was guided by astrological factors to appease ‘Lord Saturn’, whose favourite colour is black, more than by political considerations. Apparently piqued by all these responses, a sagacious ‘Kalaignar’ gave up wearing ‘black shirts’ quietly.

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