DMK patriarch M Karunanidhi’s influential grandnephew Dayanidhi Maran is missing from the hurly-burly of elections in Tamil Nadu, triggering speculation that the party leadership is distancing itself from the former Union minister.
His absence from campaign rallies amplified news about a MaranDMK rift that has been doing the rounds for a few years now.
“At the moment it is not clear why Maran has not hit the campaign trail. MK Stalin enjoys a good equation with the Maran brothers but it is said that Kanimozhi and Maran didn’t get along well. However, his absence can only be speculated at the moment,” senior journalist TN Gopalan said.
“But if one were to guess a reason it could be Maran’s association with the Aircel-Maxis case.”
Karunanidhi’s parliamentarian-daughter Kanimozhi is an accused in the multi-crore 2G telecom corruption scandal, which haunted the Congress-led UPA government that the DMK was a part of.
The Marans and DMK have had an uneasy relationship since 2007 when a Tamil newspaper owned by Dayanidhi’s brother Kalanidhi carried a survey asking who would succeed 93-yearold Karunanidhi.
The poll showed 70% favouring MK Stalin over his elder brother, MK Alagiri. This led to protests in Alagiri’s stronghold Madurai and Dayanidhi resigned eventually from the Union cabinet.
Rumours circulated again in 2011 after the DMK lost the assembly polls that the Marans were planning to join the Congress, taking along a group of party leaders. In 2013, reports emerged that former telecom minister A Raja initiated an inquiry against the Marans in the telephone exchange case after Karunanidhi distanced himself from his grand-nephews. But people feel speculation about Maran’s absence is exaggerated.
A senior DMK leader said Maran will campaign when the time is right. “Dayanidhi is still a DMK office-bearer. He was present with Kalaignar (Karunanidhi) when parties like the Indian Union Muslim League and Puthiya Tamizhagam joined the alliance. Maran will, and is dutybound, to campaign in Chennai,” he said.
But Maran has never been a politician ideal for the heat and dust of a campaign. “He was never the crowd-puller and not a popular DMK leader. I don’t think he will campaign even in Chennai, unless he is a candidate,” senior journalist G Babu Jayakumar said