Nothwithstanding the suspension of their leader, former DMK minister MK Alagiri, his supporters on Saunday thronged the Madurai airport in large numbers and gave him a rousing welcome on his arrival to the city.
Posters supporting Alagiri also appeared in various parts of the city, some describing him as "Veeran" (courageous soldier) and some saying "his time would come".
The highlight of the posters was that they carried only pictures of Alagiri.
Later speaking to reporters, Alagiri said he was grateful to his supporters for gathering in such large numbers and that he would celebrate his birthday 'as usual', in which he would distribute welfare assistance to the poor.
DMK had on January 24 suspended Alagiri from all party posts and primary membership, telling him his opposition to DMK-DMDK alliance was not going be taken lightly.
Party general secretary K Anbazhagan, who announced the suspension, had charged Alagiri with asking DMK workers not to work, criticising disciplinary action taken against some party members, "directly involving in improper discussions," and thus "creating confusion."
Alagiri's father, DMK chief M Karunanidhi had replied in the negative when asked if the suspension would affect DMK and its poll prospects in particular, while Stalin had denied any rift with his elder brother and described the action as a party affair.