| Karunanidhi with Mukherjee at the wedding on Sunday. (PTI)
Chennai, June 6: After the political marriage in Tamil Nadu in the run-up to the polls, it was time today for a mix of politics and a wedding.
Defence minister Pranab Mukherjee attended the wedding of DMK chief M. Karunanidhi’s granddaughter at Kalaignar Arangam, inside the party headquarters of Anna Arivalayam here, this morning.
Mukherjee stood transfixed as he witnessed perhaps his first “suya mariyadhai thirumanam (self-respect marriage)” that is typical of Dravidians.
There were no traditional rituals and no “purohits (priests)” because late Periyar, the social reformer, had stipulated that “Dravidian self-respect” demanded doing away with all rituals involving “Brahmins”.
Karunanidhi watched the brief ceremony as his son and DMK youth wing leader M.K. Stalin’s daughter, Senthamarai, exchanged garlands with Sabareesan.
Apart from the exchange, the only act that could pass for a ritual was DMK general secretary K. Anbazhagan’s handing of the thali to the groom.
Mukherjee was not the only Congress leader in attendance. The new partnership forged with the DMK both in the state and at the Centre was visible in the presence of petroleum minister Mani Shankar Aiyar and finance minister P. Chidambaram, who fought the polls on the Congress symbol though he is not from the party.
The three leaders along with other VIPs sprinkled flowers on the newly-wed couple and blessed them.
For Stalin, the presence of top Congress leaders at his daughter’s wedding must have come as a morale booster. Stalin, nursing ambitions of becoming chief minister, was said to be sulking after former Prime Minister V.P. Singh and MDMK chief Vaiko, an ally, said at Karunanidhi’s recent birthday celebrations that they wanted to see the DMK chief return to power in Tamil Nadu.
Stalin must also have been cheered by the greetings sent by Congress president Sonia Gandhi, President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam and his predecessor K.R. Narayanan.
Speaking on the occasion, Karunanidhi took pains to explain the historical significance of Periyar’s “self-respect marriages” and how this had been the ancient Tamil custom. He pointed out that it was the first DMK government in 1967 under late C.N. Annadurai that brought in a bill to “legalise self-respect marriages”.
Taking advantage of Chidambaram’s presence and with the coming Union budget in mind, the DMK chief said he hoped the finance minister would “do what is necessary for the growth of Tamil Nadu”.
Later, Mukherjee and his party colleagues attended the wedding of the son of E.V.K.S. Elangovan, Union minister of state for commerce and industry and a former state Congress chief. This, too, was a “self-respect marriage” as Elangovan is Periyar’s grandnephew.