The elder son has once again staked his claim to leadership of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, Tamil Nadu’s ruling party, when current president and chief minister M. Karunanidhi is ready to pass on the mantle.
M K Alagiri, Karunanidhi’s elder son and a Union minister, said he would surely participate in any future contest for the party’s top post. “If there is an election, I will definitely contest. I fully endorse my father’s view that leaders should be elected democratically,” he said.
Alagiri is pitched in a succession battle with younger brother M K Stalin.
“I spoke my mind to a Tamil magazine. I spoke according to my conscience and I will stick to it. I have the right to air my opinions,” he said, referring to a recent interview in which he had asserted that only Karuninidhi was acceptable to him as party leader.
But when asked if he would contest against his brother, Alagiri only said that Stalin was currently the state’s deputy chief minister.
Karunanidhi has often been perceived to favour Stalin, and has indicated in the past that the younger son would succeed him. But he has deferred a formal announcement over fears of a backlash from Alagiri and his supporters.
Alagiri’s entry in the Union cabinet last year is said to have been a ploy to keep him away from state politics and clear the way for Stalin’s elevation. But hampered by his lack of fluency in any language other than Tamil, Alagiri is desperate to return to his home turf.
The recent flare-up of the succession rivalry follows a rally in Perambur near Chennai on Tuesday, when the patriarch showered praises on Stalin but did not mention Alagiri’s name.
A day later, he said only the party had the power to decide its leader, indicating it may eventually be resolved through an election.