Shanmuganathan dies at age 80 – The Hindu

K. Shanmuganathan, secretary to the former head of DMK and former chief minister Mr. Karunanidhi for more than four decades, died Tuesday of age-related illnesses. He was 80 years old.

In a condolence message, DMK Chairman MP Stalin said Shanmuganathan was “like my older brother and an important pillar of the Gopalapuram family has fallen.”

DMK General Secretary Duraimurugan and MDMK Chief Vaiko were among those who paid tribute in person. PMK leader S. Ramadoss offered his condolences on his death.

Karunanidhi’s “shadow”

Known in party circles as the ‘shadow’ of Karunanidhi, Shanmuganathan remained a staunch collaborator of Patriarch DMK, whether the party was in power or not, until his death in August 2018.

Originally from Tiruvarur district, Shanmuganathan joined the Tiruvarur Cooperative Bank.

He learned typing, passed a service board exam and joined the office of the Madras Police Commissioner as a typist. But his knowledge of Tamil shorthand made him cross Karunanidhi.

His report on then-opposition leader Karunanidhi’s speech at a public meeting resulted in a complaint against him. “He [Karunanidhi] was impressed that I had transcribed exactly what he was talking about. When the DMK came to power, it found me, ”Shanmuganathan said in an interview with The hindu Tamil in 2017.

Offer declined

Although he initially turned down a job offer from Karunanidhi, then Minister of Public Works, to be his personal assistant, his father forced Shanmuganathan to accept the offer. As the head of the DMK had already hired people, Shanmuganathan joined the secretariat of the Legislative Assembly.

On leave for her sister’s wedding in 1969, Shanmuganathan received a telegram that read, “Leave Cancel. Join the Cabinet of the Chief Minister as a PA ”On February 16, 1969, he took the reins.

When the DMK government was removed from office during the state of emergency and the AIADMK led by MG Ramachandran took power, Shanmuganathan was on the verge of resigning on the advice of his boss.

But Karunanidhi’s nephew, Murasoli Maran, hinted that his services could still be requisitioned since the opposition leader was entitled to a PA. MGR was reluctant at first but later consented.

He could always be spotted behind or next to Karunanidhi during public meetings. He had brief periods of disagreement with the former chief minister, but he would soon be reconciled with him. He was tasked with typing out responses to party workers and political statements while Karunanidhi recounted or wrote down his thoughts.

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