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DMK at crossroads over succession issue

Ahead of next week's crucial general council meeting, the DMK is at the crossroads with differences among Karunanidhi family members over the succession issue, threatening to make the two-day meet meet at Coimbatore a stormy affair.

india Updated: Jul 17, 2011 12:18 IST

Ahead of next week's crucial general council meeting, the DMK is at the crossroads with differences among Karunanidhi family members over the succession issue, threatening to make the two-day meet meet at Coimbatore a stormy affair.

The succession war between Karunanidhi's sons MK Stalin and his Madurai-based sibling and Union minister MK Alagiri is no public secret, but the 2G spectrum allocation scam and the electoral drubbing at the hands of arch rival AIADMK in the April 13 assembly elections, has made matters worse.

Stalin is said to be upset over dent on the party's image caused by the 2G scam that has landed his step-sister Kanimozhi and Karunanidhi's trusted junior colleague, former telecom minister A Raja, in jail for their alleged roles.

It is also widely perceived that the two-day meet could see Stalin's supporters press for a much bigger role for their Thalapathy (the General) in party affairs, even asking Karunanidhi to vacate the president's chair for his son.

However, the Alagiri camp is expected to put up stiff resistance and insist on Karunanidhi's continuance as party boss, a stand reaffirmed by Alagiri who recently said that Karunanidhi would be the party chief.

In a recent reported spat between Karunanidhi and Stalin, considered the 88 year-old patriarch's political heir apparent, over functioning of DMK's women's wing, the two are learnt to have made some strong remarks, before walking out of the party headquarters, Anna Arivalayam.

Stalin reportedly pointed an accusing finger at supporters of Kanimozhi and Alagiri for the party's rough patch, but Karunanidhi put up an emotional defence of his daughter and blamed the centre for her arrest on the 2G spectrum issue.

With two key district secretaries - a powerful post in DMK's organisational setup - quitting after the poll debacle, the party has proposed a shake up, replacing it with Lok Sabha segment level convenors, that has turned up the heat.

While Stalin, one of the very few top leaders to survive the April 13 elections, is in favour of such a system, Alagiri is learnt to have insisted on status quo.

Sources close to Alagiri said that he has made it clear there was no need to do away with the district secretaries' post, but only to act against non-performing leaders.

Senior leaders, many of them also secretaries of respective district units, have resented the high command's move as they fear this will curtail their powers.

Interestingly, Alagiri, had recently acknowledged that even partymen had been blaming family politics as being instrumental for the DMK's poor show in elections.

The DMK's woes have compounded with CBI now gunning for Dayanidhi Maran for his alleged role in the 2G spectrum scam, that also caused his exit from the Union cabinet.

Now all eyes are on the DMK executive and general council (July 23-24), which is expected to see some fireworks between supporters of the Stalin and Alagiri factions.

The meet is also expected to take a view on DMK's troubled ties with Congress, which had soured in the wake of Kanimozhi's arrest.

It may also take a decision on the issue of replacements for Raja and Maran in the Union cabinet, with a sulking Karunanidhi not keen on suggesting any names before the recent cabinet reshuffle.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had said he had left two cabinet berths vacant for DMK. Raja and Maran had quit in connection with the 2G spectrum scam and Alagiri is the lone cabinet minister representing DMK.