As thousands flocked to the Rajaji Hall in Chennai for a last look at M Karunanidhi, their "Kaliagnar" who died at 94 yesterday, his party DMK and the ruling AIADMK slugged it out in court over a burial site.
The Madras High Court resumed its hearing this morning on the DMK's request to bury its patriarch at the Marina Beach, near his mentor CN Annadurai's memorial.
A hearing was called around midnight at the home of acting chief justice Huluvadi G Ramesh as the DMK moved court after its request was denied by the ruling AIADMK, which had in 2016 skirted rules to bury its chief J Jayalalithaa at the Marina beach, near her mentor MG Ramachandran's memorial.
The state government has instead offered the DMK a two-acre plot near Gandhi Mandapam, the memorial dedicated to Mahatma Gandhi.
The ruling AIADMK, which had asked for time to reply to the petition, told the court today that only chief ministers who died in office were allotted space at the Marina Beach.
"'Anna (Annadurai), who is the founder of DMK, used to say my life and soul is Karunanidhi. Burying Karunanidhi next to Gandhi Mandapam cannot be termed as a decent burial," the DMK shot back, claiming that "one crore DMK followers in Tamil Nadu would be offended" if Karunanidhi was not given place at Marina beach.
"Kamaraja and other Congress chief ministers were laid to rest near Gandhi Mandapam as their ideologies different from the Dravidian movement. The ideologies of AIADMK and DMK are similar so MGR (MG Ramachandran) was allotted space along Marina," the DMK argued.
The DMK said no law says only chief ministers are eligible for burial at Marina beach. "'You (the state government) have announced state mourning, why not give land for burial? There's no prohibition under central government protocol to allot land at Marina beach for ex-chief ministers," the DMK said.
The acting chief justice then asked to see permission granted for Jayalalithaa's memorial.
The state government also referred to pending petitions seeking a ban on the construction of memorials along the Marina Beach. The petitions were withdrawn soon after the hearing resumed.
The government lawyer accused the DMK of "pursuing a political agenda" by filing the case. "DMK chief Periyar was the tallest leader of the Dravidian movement. Was he buried at Marina beach," the government questioned.
Yesterday, the chief justice had questioned the government whether it was prepared for the possible backlash of its decision.