Tamil Nadu prays for recovery of 94-year-old politician Karunanidhi

A Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam party supporter holding up a portrait of senior Tamil politician M Karunanidhi outside the hospital, in Chennai, on July 30, 2018.
A Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam party supporter holding up a portrait of senior Tamil politician M Karunanidhi outside the hospital, in Chennai, on July 30, 2018. PHOTO: AFP

NEW DELHI - Senior Tamil politician M. Karunanidhi, the 94-year-old leader of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), remained in a critical condition on Monday (July 30) as the state of Tamil Nadu prayed for the recovery of the much-respected leader.

Mr Karunanidhi was admitted to Chennai's Kauvery hospital with age-related health problems on Saturday, since when crowds have been growing outside with more than 25,000 people estimated to have gathered.

Police have put up barricades and asked supporters not to resort to violence.

"He is better, he is better," Ms M. Kanimozhi - Mr Karunanidhi's daughter - told Indian media as she was leaving hospital. Mr M K Stalin, who is seen as Mr Karunanidhi's successor, appealed in a statement to party supporters to maintain calm .

On Sunday evening, the hospital said there had been a "transient setback in the clinical condition of Kalaignar".

"With active medical support, his vital signs are normalising," its medical bulletin said. "He continues to be closely monitored and treated by the panel of expert doctors."

The party patriarch, who is always seen in public wearing his trademark dark glasses, has not made any public appearance for over a year.

A powerful orator, Mr Karunanidhi has dominated Tamil Nadu politics for decades, shaping the DMK and acting as one of the key drivers of the state's Dravidian movement, which espoused rationalism and atheism.

Mr Karunanidhi was a high school dropout who also had a stint as a film screenwriter.

He has been elected to the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly 13 times from 1957 to 2016 and is a five-time chief minister. He has been party president for half a century and also made an impact on federal politics through strategic tie-ups with the two main national parties including the Congress and BJP on separate occasions

Leaders across the political spectrum have visited him or sent their good wishes over the last couple of days.

India's vice-president Venkaiah Naidu visited him in hospital on Saturday while Prime Minister Narendra Modi wished him a speedy recovery. "Enquired about the health of Kalaignar Karunanidhi Ji and offered any assistance required," Mr Modi tweeted last week, adding: "I pray for his quick recovery and good health."