Karunanidhi, Tamil Nadu’s longest serving Chief Minister

Veteran politician and Dravidian movement stalwart ‘Kalaignar’ M Karunanidhi achieved several firsts and only-s in Tamil Nadu. The five-time Chief Minister contested 13 consecutive elections since 1957, and to top it all, he won all of them.

His winning streak, spanning six decades, kicked off in Kulithalai in Karur district and meandered through Thanjavur, Saidapet, Anna Nagar, Harbour, and Chepauk, finally settling in Thiruvarur, the DMK patriarch’s birthplace, where he won for the last time in the 2016 Assembly elections. Though DMK lost the elections, he registered an emphatic victory — he was voted the MLA by a margin 68,366 votes, the largest margin he has ever won by. However, he is also the only T.N. Chief Minister whose government was dismissed twice — in 1976 on charges of corruption and in 1991 for supporting the LTTE.

Karunanidhi remains the only politician to have won Assembly elections from seven different constituencies. His aide K. Anbazhagan comes close — ‘perasiriyar’ has won from five different constituencies.

Mr. Karunanidhi also served the longest as Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu. He was Chief Minister for 6,863 days in total across five terms. J. Jayalalithaa comes second, at 5,238 days, while M.G. Ramachandran clocked over 3,600 days as C.M. However, Mr. Karunanidhi is behind Sikkim’s Pawan Chamling, who is serving his 8,640th day as C.M. today. Here’s a look at Tamil Nadu’s Chief Ministers and their tenures. Hover over/tap a name to get the details.


The only other Tamil Nadu politicians who have a comparable track record as MLAs are DMK’s Mr. Anbazhagan and Durai Murugan, who have both been elected MLA nine times each. All the MLAs who have been elected over five times belong to DMK with the exception of Panruti S. Ramachandran, who has won once on a DMK ticket, four times on an AIADMK ticket and once on a PMK ticket.


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