It has been two days since his Thalaivar passed away. On Thursday afternoon, M. Gopinathan is staring at the white Toyota Alphard parked in its lot in Gopalapuram – late DMK president M. Karunanidhi’s car for the last few years.
Gopi and Sanjeevee have been the late leader’s drivers on rotation for the past few years. “Even now, I could just see how Thalaivar used to get in to the car and tell me where to go. I don’t know what I will do now! He always asked me whether I had eaten. He took good care of us,” a teary-eyed Gopi says.
Two white Alphards with identical numbers but with different alphabets – TN 07 BD 2728 and TN 07 BK 2728 — have taken the veteran leader to all his destinations over the past few years. The leader’s day was not complete without a visit to Murasoli office on Kodambakkam High Road and Arivalayam on Anna Salai.
“During our tours for electoral campaigns, our leader always planned well in advance. One of the two cars would go and wait at the station. We designed a special tempo traveller for such campaigns. And he was quite particular about us being clean and neatly dressed in a white shirt,” says the man in his 30s from Nandanam.
And yes, there were some challenges. “Sometimes, anxious partymen would fall before the vehicle in their eagerness to catch a glimpse of Thalaivar. Also, he wasn’t too fond of crackers and I would stop much before where they are being burst on the road.”
DMK working president M.K. Stalin and family members of Karunanidhi visited the burial site on Thursday evening to pay floral tributes to the late leader. All through the night after the funeral on Wednesday, Karunanidhi’s admirers and partymen continued to throng the site to pay their last respects to the revered leader.
Noted lyricist and long-time friend of the late DMK leader, Vairamuthu, too visited the site with his sons, and offered tributes.
Actor Trisha Krishnan knelt down near the site and offered floral tributes. Speaking to reporters, she said the demise of the leader was a huge loss. Karunanidhi was a great poet, orator and a legend, she added.