DMK chief M Karunanidhi’s son MK Stalin’s interaction with Prime Minister Manmohan and Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Thursday — ostensibly on the issue of deciding the UPA’s candidate for the presidential election — underscored a new profile for him.
Stalin, DMK’s treasurer, met Singh at South Block and Gandhi at her residence. He was accompanied by former union minister T R Baalu who has hitherto remained the party’s point person to deal with the Congress.
Stalin told reporters that whatever his father had conveyed to defence minister AK Antony in a meeting in Chennai last month was the party’s stance on the issue. Karunanidhi had said he would not object if Mukherjee was chosen as the UPA’s presidential candidate.
Stalin’s interaction with the PM and Sonia Gandhi took place against the backdrop of his brother and union chemicals and fertiliser minister MK Alagiri choosing to remain in the background.
Alagiri’s presence at the union cabinet meetings has remained erratic. He has been preoccupied with DMK’s internal wrangles and visiting his supporters who are in jail since the Jayalalithaa government came into power and slapped land grab cases on them.
Eighty nine-year-old Karunanidhi wants Stalin to succeed him. But Dayalu Ammal, his wife and mother of the two brothers, has prevailed on him to keep the succession row open, DMK sources say.
On her advice, Karunanidhi had announced rehabilitation of DMK workers, most of them Alagiri's supporters, who were expelled or suspended from the party. Stalin's action against them came after they boycotted his visit to Madurai.
A day ago, Karunanidhi said, “I will contest (for party chief’s post) if I am alive after one year (when the poll is due).” What he meant was that he was still much in command despite his advanced age, DMK leaders said. Stalin and Alagiri have differed on ways to rebuild DMK, which took a heavy beating in the Tamil Nadu polls last year.