DMK’s treasurer MK Stalin was elevated as the party’s working president on Wednesday, days after the ruling AIADMK party elected Sasikala Natarajan as the new chief after J Jayalalithaa’s death.
Party supremo M Karunanidhi, who was recently hospitalised twice, will remain president, but his son Stalin will enjoy similar powers and be in complete charge. Stalin will also retain the post of the treasurer till further orders.
The 93-year-old party patriarch was unable to attend the meeting having been advised rest but sent a message to the meeting that was read out.
The move, which has been expected among the party’s circles, was announced at a crucial general body meeting chaired by senior leader K Anbazhagan. Stalin’s name was proposed by Anbazhagan and seconded by an emotional S Duraimurugan.
- DMK patriarch M Karunanidhi’s 63-year-old son is perhaps the longest serving political apprentice to his father
- Had to fight a major battle within the family to edge out his brother Alagiri for the number one position
- Began his political career when he was just 14, campaigning for DMK in 1967 elections
- Was a student leader and took part in youth wing activities and emerged as a leader in his own right.
- Served as the high-profile mayor of Chennai from 1996 to 2002 and the deputy chief minister in the DMK government headed by Karunanidhi from 2009 to 2011
- Is DMK’s treasurer and president of its youth wing
- Was arrested under MISA during Emergency and came into limelight
- Lost just two elections and won six times, the last five consecutively from different constituencies
Stalin bowed and touched the feet of Anbazhagan as soon as the announcement was made at a crowded auditorium located at the DMK headquarters in Chennai. His sister Kanimozhi was among the audience.
In a brief acceptance speech, Stalin said that the circumstances in which he was assuming charge as the working president in the absence of his father had decreased his satisfaction.
“It is a big responsibility and I accept the post at this juncture,” Stalin said, adding that it reminded him of his father’s words that “position is not about just getting a post but it is responsibility towards your position.”
In a message to the critics of DMK, who often take potshots for its dynastic politics, Stalin said that he has been active in electoral politics ever since he was a child and contested each and every position to rise up in the ranks.
“I did not get any post because of the family. I fought elections and won,” Stalin said.
The DMK constitution was amended to create the post of a working president, with same powers as that of the president.
After the general council meeting, Stalin and other senior party leaders called on Karunanidhi at his residence.
There was a growing clamour within the party for Stalin’s ascension, especially since Karunanidhi’s bouts of ill-health. As it stands, Stalin has already been taking the reins, placing trusted aides across districts.
The DMK patriarch also declared his son as his political heir in a recent interview to a Tamil magazine as “he had proven himself as a leader of the party”.
The change in guard also comes at a time AIADMK leaders have appealed to the interim general secretary Sasikala to take over as the chief minister of Tamil Nadu, a move Stalin had said was “sycophancy”.
Political analyst Ramu Manivannam said Stalin has a big challenge cut out for him as there are important issues like drought, farmers suicides and the issue of governance.
But Stalin would have it easier as he has already proven and established himself in the party as a leader of substance, he added.