Mr Moopanar was admitted to the hospital on July 31 for a surgery for a hairline hip fracture. He developed pneumonia after which he was put on life support systems. His condition seemed to improve, but two days ago doctors at the hospital stated that he was in a critical condition.

His body was kept at the Kamaraj Hall for the public to pay their homage. The funeral is scheduled to take place tomorrow.

Leaders of various political parties including the Congress (I) President, Ms Sonia Gandhi, the Chief Minister, Ms Jayalalithaa, the former Chief Minister, Mr M. Karunanidhi, paid their tributes to Mr Moopanar.

A staunch loyalist of the Indira Gandhi family and a confidante of K. Kamaraj, Mr Moopanar was AICC General-Secretary and also headed the Tamil Nadu Congress(I) Committee. He was known for his behind-the-scenes efforts in defusing many a crisis in the Co ngress(I).

He stunned his critics and followers alike when he quit the Congress(I) in 1996 following the party high command’s decision to align with the AIADMK for the Assembly elections. He floated his own party, the TMC, taking along with him the cream of the Con gress(I) leaders in the State. Those who threw in their lot with Mr Moopanar included Mr P. Chidambaram, who as a TMC MP was Finance Minister in the United Front Government at the Centre.

The TMC aligned with the DMK in the 1996 Assembly elections, in which the AIADMK was routed. When the United Front Government was in power at the Centre, Mr Moopanar came close to being nominated for the Prime Minister’s post, but political factors weigh ed against him.

Till his end, Mr Moopanar maintained good personal relations with political leaders cutting across party lines, and never indulged in personal criticism of his opponents.

A keen cricket fan and an ardent follower and patron of carnatic music, Mr Moopanar was born into a prominent agriculturist family in Thanjavur district.

He had not been keeping good health for some time, despite which he campaigned for the 2001 Assembly elections, which the TMC fought in alliance with the AIADMK.