Forty-four year old Dayanidhi Maran represented a new breed of DMK leaders. He ushered in the corporate culture in a largely non-English speaking party and appeared doing pretty well until the sleaze charges took their toll.
Maran drew strength from the fact that he was son of late Murasoli Maran, nephew of DMK chief M Karunanidhi, and his long-standing political companion.
Murasoli Maran had served as a key Union minister handling key portfolios like industry and commence in the governments of VP Singh, Deve Gowda and AB Vajpayee.
In fact, the vacuum, which was caused by his father’s death in November 2003, catapulted Maran to the center-stage of his party. The DMK named him as the party’s candidate from the prestigious Central Madras seat.
Karunanidhi needed a trusted lieutenant who could serve him as his interpreter and interlocutor to whichever principal party that was in a position to form the government.
Maran didn’t ever bother that he was not part of any of the DMK’s political movements that ultimately unseated the Congress from Tamil Nadu in 1967. In fact, he hardly wore white dhoti with black and red border, the standard trademark attire of any DMK leader, preferring to be in tucked-in shirts and black trousers like a corporate leader.
Maran did not hide his love for English, which was more than what he had for Tamil, which was the political bane of any DMK functionary worth his salt. In 2004, tech-savvy Maran made his presence felt when he handled negotiations with the Congress and managed get close to the Gandhi family.
An ambitious Maran, however, ran into trouble in May 2007. He had to quit the Cabinet following orders from Karunanidhi. Maran family-owned daily Dinakaran published a survey, saying the people wanted MK Stalin and not MK Alagiri as Karunanidhi’s political heir. An angry DMK chief snapped ties with Maran brothers. Post-patchup Maran returned to the Cabinet in 2009.