Two brothers – MK Stalin and MK Alagiri – and their ageing father were locked in a battle for supremacy that had all the ingredients of a political potboiler. But the younger, more politically active and experienced Stalin trumped his elder brother when it came to winning the trust of their father, as also of the party rank and file.
The sibling rivalry, always simmering, came to the fore about six years ago, when chief minister Karunanidhi hosted an international Tamil meet. Supporters of then Union minister Alagiri shouted slogans and stormed out of the meeting. Alagiri also boycotted the meeting as he was incensed for not being given the pride of place within the party.
It gained fresh momentum in 2013, when Alagiri insisted the DMK continue in the United Progressive Alliance government, but Stalin wanted to pull out.
Smarting over this, Alagiri badmouthed his brother in front of his father, who was enraged enough to oust him from the party.
But even before all this played out, Alalgiri was itching for a fight. He had badmouthed DMDK chief Vijayakanth, whom Stalin and Karunanidhi were trying to lure for an alliance for the general elections.
Meanwhile, Alagiri charged Stalin with irregularities in ticket distribution and alleged large-scale corruption.
Alagiri supporters also launched a poster war, declaring rival DMK general council meetings after boycotting the official one. All this was taking place in early 2014.
But Alagiri’s outburst against Stalin in front of Karunanidhi was the last straw.
Since he was ousted, he stayed outside, despite his best efforts to regain entry into his father’s good books and the party.
Stalin had used the small window of opportunity after his brother was dismissed from the party and captured the party apparatus and filled in his loyalists in all posts that were earlier controlled by Alagiri and his men in southern Tamil Nadu.