Nation pays homage to Karunanidhi amid legal battle (Second Lead)

Chennai : Tens of thousands of emotionally charged people from all over Tamil Nadu on Wednesday paid homage to DMK patriarch M. Karunanidhi even as his party battled legally with the state government for a burial place at the Marina Beach here.

Led by Governor Banwarilal Purohit, Chief Minister K. Palaniswami, DMK members, leaders and people from all walks of life -- VIPs and others --file past the mortal remains of Karunanidhi at the Rajaji Hall in the heart of Chennai.

A legal battle reigns in the residence-court of Madras High Court Acting Chief Justice Huluvadi G. Ramesh and Justice S.S. Sundar, on where Karunanidhi, 94, who died on Tuesday evening should be buried.

The DMK wants him interred near the seafront memorial of DMK founder and Karunanidhi's mentor C. N. Annadurai.

The DMK has approached the Madras High Court on Tuesday night. The hearing went till midnight when the court adjourned the case directing the state government and Chennai Corporation to file their affidavits on Wednesday.

The AIADMK government late on Tuesday rejected the request and asked the DMK to bury Karunanidhi on Sardar Patel Road which is home to memorials dedicated to Rajaji (C. Rajagopalachari) and K. Kamaraj.

While West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee flew into Chennai on Tuesday night, a host of national leaders, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, are expected to arrive here on Wednesday to attend the last rites.

Early on Wednesday Deputy Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam along with people from different walks of life -- leaders, actors, industrialists and others -- paid homage to their departed leader. Purohit also had a few words with Karunanidhi's son and DMK leader M.K. Stalin.

Tamil Nadu Assembly Speaker P. Dhanapal, Minister for Fisheries D. Jayakumar, Deputy Speaker of Lok Sabha M. Thambidurai and other party leaders also paid homage to Karunanidhi.

Actor-turned-politician Rajinikanth also paid his respects and consoled the family members of the DMK patriarch. Industrialists Venu Srinivasan and Mallika Srinivasan were some of the others who paid their respects and also consoled the family members.

Chief Minister for five times and leader of DMK party for 50 years, the 94-year-old breathed his last owing to age-related ailments in a private hospital here on Tuesday evening.

His mortal remains was brought to the Rajaji Hall early on Wednesday after it was taken to his homes at Gopalapuram here and at CIT Colony for relatives and leaders to pay their last respects.

The veteran politician's body is covered with the national flag.

On Tuesday Union Home Ministry in a statement said the Trocolour will fly half-mast on Wednesday as a mark of respect to the former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister.

"It has also been decided to accord state funeral to the departed soul. The funeral will take place in Chennai on Wednesday and the government of India will observe one-day state mourning throughout the country.

"There will be no official entertainment on the day," the Home Ministry statement said.

Leaders of the DMK party have assembled at the Rajaji Hall. A large number of people have gathered outside to pay their last respects to the iconic leader.

Outside the hall, DMK party cadres are shouting "Marina Vendum, Marina Vendum "(want Marina) referring to the party's request for burial site at Marina Beach here, which was turned down by the state government on Tuesday.

Acting Chief Justice Ramesh and Justice Sundar is hearing the matter and will settle the issue on Wednesday morning.

Normally busy roads wore deserted look and many shops have downed their shutters.

The Tamil Nadu government has announced holiday for schools and state government offices and undertakings on Wednesday as a mark of respect for Karunanidhi.

Private bus operators have stopped their services to and from Chennai till Wednesday evening. However people from different parts of the state are reaching Chennai using other modes of transport.