If you were visiting Chennai with an invite to DMK patriarch M Karunanidhi’s 90th Birthday bash on Monday you may well form an impression that the city was celebrating his bete noire Amma’s day instead.
Right from the airport to different nooks and corners of the city, it was Amma in various avatars and attires that greeted the visitor, with buntings and posters announcing the different government welfare schemes and programmes.
A power-full Jayalalithaa clearly edged out the birthday boy, Karunanidhi whose party had to fight hard to annex few walls and road dividers to mount cutouts and posters of Karunanidhi, also in his many moods and poses – pictures depicting his journey from a film personality to a politician and party patriarch.
But no prizes for guessing who won the cutout war.
But the DMK patriarch had with him greetings and good wishes from UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, prime minister Manmohan Singh and several national political leaders. But the best birthday gift for him came from the family – that put up a united face and showed up to greet their family head and leader, Kalaignar.
In a party that witnessed sibling rivalry coming to the fore now and then, the warring brothers Alagiri and Stalin were there in one room. The duo have been studiously ignoring each other since the electoral debacle and Alagiri has had seriously opposed quitting the UPA.
Alagiri is cut up with younger brother Stalin as he takes firmer grip on the party and also annexes his elder brother’s territory of southern Tamil Nadu as far as party apparatus is concerned.
Karunanidhi had appealed to all members to sink their differences and work as one for the party, an advise that the brothers find difficult to accept.
Evenas the DMK tries to revive itself, with words of wisdom from Karunanidhi, Jayalalithaa was driving on with her populist campaign – more Amma eateries in different parts of the state, more development activity kicking on the ground and announcements of different kinds.
On Monday, the chief minister laid the foundation stone for several projects, including Rs 1200 crore multilayer double coated project board of Tamil Nadu Newsprint & Papers Ltd at Srirangam in Tiruchirapalli district. “Not only new industries create employment opportunities but also develops ancillary sector and the overall growth of the economy in that area,” she said.
Jayalalithaa was elected to assembly from Srirangam constituency, some 350 km from here.