DMK satrap M Karunanidhi failed to defeat arch rivals AIADMK in the last two assembly elections. However, in his death he did defeat them -- by winning the right to be buried on the famed Marina beach, alongside the memorial of the grand patriarch of the Dravidian politics, CN Annadurai.
As the hearse carrying Karunanidhi's body moves to the final resting ground, followers, party men, admirers and curious onlookers will be following him, in their thousands. Will Karunanidhi's funeral witness the largest mass gathering ever in Tamil Nadu? That's unlikely, but the number of mourners will be recorded for history.
The odds of Karunanidhi's mourners outstripping those for Annadurai are lean. Because, the largest gathering of human beings ever on earth was witnessed when Annadurai was laid to rest. As many as 15 million people had attended that funeral on the Marina, in 1969.
Let's see which were the largest funeral gatherings in India's history:
- CN Annadurai - 15 million
- Mahatma Gandhi - 2 million
- Bal Thackeray - 2 million
- Jawaharlal Nehru - 1.5 million
- Indira Gandhi - 1 million
- MG Ramachandran - 1 million
Death is probably not the ideal time to take stock of the legacy of a mass leader. For, the verdict would be filtered through an emotional prism. However, death and funeral are the last, very last statements from a leader. How many people turn up to witness the last march says something about the impact the dead leader has left behind.
Here's some more funeral statistics, from the world stage:
- Ayatollah Khamenei - 10 million
- Abraham Lincoln - 7 million
- Pope john Paul II - 4 million
- Princess Diana -- 1 million
- Muhammad Ali Jinnah -- 1 million
- Vladimir Lenin -- 1 million