For party insiders, this was yet another instance of showing preference. Time and again, the DMK chief has indicated that Stalin was his choice to carry the baton, giving rise to what had almost been a pitched battle for succession between his two sons.
In April, his elder son and Union minister MK Alagiri had kicked up a row when Stalin had ignored his nominees for the youth wing. In October, a reunion of sorts was reached after a meeting between the brothers. Karunanidhi's latest endorsement is expected to aggravate the tension.
A senior leader said Karunanidhi has been dropping repeated hints about his preference. "Stalin is being groomed to take over the party and is being given significant assignments," said a party functionary. Earlier this month, Stalin was sent to submit a DMK memo to the United Nations.
"The leadership issue is a settled issue within the party," said political analyst Gnani Sankaran.
"Only Alagiri opposes it, but a majority of the leaders and the party's rank and file are behind Stalin. In the DMK too, the youth wing is the route to take over the party."