Kanimozhi: Multi-faceted person neck deep in mega scam

May 20th, 2011 - 8:16 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, May 20 (IANS) Her name Kanimozhi means sweet words. But beyond her fluent communicative skills in English and Tamil, the 43-year-old daughter of DMK supremo M. Karunanidhi has been a controversial power centre in the inner circles of the Dravidian party and its first family.

Kanimozhi, a first-term Rajya Sabha member, is considered close to her father and Andimuthu Raja, her party colleague and jailed former communications minister - the association landing her in Tihar Jail in the 2G a spectrum case Friday.

In the melodramatic Tamil Nadu culture - where cinema, television and literature interplay with politics - Kanimozhi is a sort of youth icon and cultural czarina, at least for her followers.

For them, she is an imaginative poet, prolific journalist, cultural ambassador, youth leader who helped thousands of unemployed find jobs and a patron of arts who provided platform for several talented artists to bloom.

Her admirers call her the “literary heir” to Karunanidhi, who began his career as a film script writer.

But critics and investigative agencies allege she was the “ears and eyes of Karunanidhi” during the 2G spectrum scam, which according to the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) caused the national exchequer a loss of Rs 1.76 lakh crore.

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), in its charge sheet in the 2G spectrum case, has mentioned her closeness to Karunanidhi, which helped Raja retain the communications portfolio in the United Progressive Alliance-II (UPA) government too.

Media reports, quoting the infamous Niira Radia tapes had said Kanimozhi “tilted the scales in favour of Raja”.

Kanimozhi is a 20-percent stake holder in the Karunanidhi family-owned Kalignar TV, which is accused by the CBI of receiving Rs.200 crore kickbacks in the 2G spectrum scandal.

An NGO linked with Kanimozhi is also accused of receiving huge donations from corporates involved in the spectrum scandal.

The CBI, which has named Kanimozhi as a co-conspirator in the spectrum scandal, has described her as “the brain behind the Kalignar TV”, which has been used to siphon off 2G spectrum kickbacks.

Before being elected to the Rajya Sabha, Kanimozhi worked as the chief of the DMK’s wing for art, literature and rationalism, making her popular in Tamil Nadu among artists, literary circles and youth.

Kanimozhi was born on the New Year’s day in 1968 to Karunanidhi and his third wife Rajathi Ammal in Chennai.

Union Chemicals Minister M.K. Alagiri and former Tamil Nadu deputy chief minister M.K. Stalin are her half-brothers.

She worked as a journalist for several years - in The Hindu and Kumgmam magazine in Chennai and Singapore-based Tamil Murasu - before plunging full-time into politics.

Kanimozhi is the author of five books of poetry in Tamil, rated as “promising” by many critics.

She has married twice. Athiban Bose, a Sivakasi-based businessman, was her first husband from 1989-1997. She married Singapore-based Tamil writer G. Aravindan in 1997. They have a nine-year-old son Aditya.

Aravindan accompanied her to the court hearings in the 2G spectrum case in Delhi recently.

Political analyst K. Sreekumar said: “Kanimozhi belongs to the sauve, English-speaking new generation in the Indian political dynasties. But behind her sweet demeanor, there is involvement in alleged huge corrupt deals.”

But not all agree.

“Never rule out Kanimozhi. She was an off-beat journalist who never had the airs of the daughter of the chief minister. We all used to go out to the road-side coffee shops and chat. As a politician too, she had the a wave-length with all top leaders, ordinary party workers and especially women and youth,” said a former journalist colleague of Kanimozhi.

(George Joseph can be contacted at george.j@ians.in)

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