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A postmaster friend of Kalaignar’s for life

Kalaignar made some lasting friendships in his life. One of them was with R. Venkataswami, a former postmaster of Salem.

Upon reaching Salem at the invitation of filmmaker T.R. Sundaram for writing the script for
Manthiri Kumari
, Mr. Karunanidhi was helped by Mr. Venkataswami, an acquaintance of K. Somu, an assistant director at Modern Theatres, in finding a house on rent in the Muslim-dominated Habib Sahib Street.

Mr. Karunanidhi moved in with his mother Anjugam, wife Dayalu and son Muthu (born to first wife Padmavathy).

“I accompanied Karunanidhi to all the public meetings he addressed during the weekends in Salem for about two years,” recalls Mr. Venkataswami, now 87.

Eventually, Karunanidhi would depend on him for receiving and extending hospitality to DMK leaders of the time. Mr. Venkataswami was with Mr. Karunanidhi during his maiden election from Kulithalai in 1957 and from Thanjavur in 1962.

He recalls that when Anjugam died, the then Congress leader K. Kamaraj was the first to arrive at Karunanidhi’s house, despite their bitter political rivalry.

From the beginning, Karunanidhi used to call Mr. Venkataswami, “Sir”.

Mr. Venkataswami, himself a writer, has authored about 50 books. Karunanidhi used to regularly send word about having gone through his books.

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