Chennai: The government of Tamil Nadu was in a cleft stick after having decided to oppose the last rites and burial of five-time chief minister Muthuvel Karnunanidhi on the Marin Beach. Considered a premium site of the city and reckoned to be the second longest beach in the world, the Marina has become a status symbol after the burial there of three chief ministers who died in office — C.N. Annadurai, M.G. Ramachandran and J. Jayalalithaa.
The matter was taken to court in a late-night hearing by DMK lawyers seeking what they said was the rightful place for their leader M. Karunanidhi.
Opposing his burial on the prestigious sands was the chief minister of Tamil Nadu Edappadi Palansiwamy, who may have taken the decision on his own, without consulting his deputy O. Panneerselvam.
At the time of going to press, there were signs that the government was having second thoughts on the unpopular decision taken by the CM and could reverse it before the two-judge bench of acting chief justice of Madras HC and Justice Selvam.
It would have been magnanimous on part of the government to have allowed the burial instead of making an issue of it and allotting two acres of land at the Gandhi Mandapam in the Gunidy national park area, next to the virtually forgotten memorials of Rajaji and Kamaraj.
The row over the burial did not break out only after the death of Karunaidihi on Tuesday.
Permission had been sought from the government and submissions made to the National Green Tribunal to allow one more burial on the sands although such an action would be in breach of coastal regulations and the recommendation of the National Green Tribunal that Jaya's burial should be the last one at the site.
The historic stretch of sands with a walking promenade dominated by the Gandhi statue at one end and the memorials to Anna, MGR and Jaya on the other, would be no less if a fourth burial and memorial were allowed.
The point being made in defence of the government, that burial can be allowed only of serving CMs, not hold water as DMK chief Karunanidhi is as great a Tamil Nadu leader and charismatic national figure as the others laid to rest there.