He joined Karunanidhi as his personal secretary in 1969. The two became inseparable irrespective of whether the late DMK leader was in power or in the opposition. After the death of Karunanidhi on August 7, 2018, Shanmughanathan continued to visit his office room in the former’s Gopalapuram residence in the city for a few weeks, before withdrawing himself from the political limelight.
Considered in political circles to be Karunanidhi’s shadow, Shanmughanathan was omnipresent, wherever Karunanidhi went – be it on government duty or that of a political leader. Karunanidhi praised his personal secretary several times in public for his accuracy in taking notes of his speeches – both at public meetings and press conferences.
Tamil Nadu CM M K Stalin pays his last respects to Shanmughanathan
Karunanidhi actually spotted Shanmughanathan after watching him diligently taking notes of whatever he spoke at public meetings on behalf of the state’s intelligence when the DMK was still in the opposition and yet to capture power in Tamil Nadu. Impressed by the latter’s work, Karunanidhi appointed him as his personal secretary.
Despite their bonding and understanding, there were a few occasions when the two had a tiff and Shanmughanathan left Gopalapuram office, vowing never to return. But within a few days, Karunanidhi would send word for him and senior DMK leaders would rush to Shanmughanathan’s residence and convince him to return. The last time the two separated was in December 2008. Shanmughanathan returned to work within a few days and stayed on till Karunanidhi’s death in 2018.