The biggest birthday gift that DMK patriarch M Karunanidhi gave to his younger son, MK Stalin, was quashing speculation over his older brother’s return, thus clearing his path to take over as party chief someday.
“He (MK Alagiri) is no longer in the party” was the party supremo’s terse message to DMK rank and file, minutes after his older son criticised the DMK-Congress poll tie-up.
The final nail in the coffin came a year after Alagiri was removed from the DMK for anti-party activities, and was much to the disappointment of workers who were confident of his re-admission and even put up posters in Madurai a couple of months back.
It was Alagiri’s outburst against the DMK’s alliance with the Congress that enraged Karunanidhi, and destroyed any chance of the latter softening his stance against his elder son — who was trying hard to get back into his father’s good books.
For Stalin, who spent his 64th birthday on Tuesday at an undisclosed location away from Chennai with his immediate family, there is no longer any opposition from within the family. His elder brother had refused to accept him as a leader, but is now out of the picture, while his half-sister Kanimozhi is safely ensconced as the party’s face in New Delhi and as a Rajya Sabha member.
Nonetheless, to be anointed as the leader of the DMK and its chief ministerial candidate, Stalin will have to wait until his father decides to either step aside or retire from active politics. “Kalaignar (as Karunanidhi is fondly called) has not given any hint towards such an eventuality,” said a senior DMK leader on condition of anonymity.
Stalin has reconciled to this and repeatedly announced during his recently concluded mass contact programme — Nammaku Naame — that there were winds of change blowing in Tamil Nadu and the DMK was going to form the next government under the leadership of Kalaignar.
Another birthday gift from the father to his son was wholesome praise for the success of Nammaku Naame, during which Stalin toured all the districts of the state and interacted with the people, gauging their mood and egging them on to throw out the present “non-government” that had left the state in a mess.
Stalin’s strong message on his birthday, that he was not celebrating because many people had lost everything and suffered during the December floods, was in stark contrast to the display of sycophancy of Amma’s followers and huge government participation by way of taking up social and welfare projects.
Almost all newspapers were plastered with full-page advertisements and the city bathed in Amma posters, buntings and giant cutouts.
In comparison, Stalin’s posters were smaller, fewer in number and the advertisements in papers too few and far in between. Party workers, however, did organise some food-distribution programmes and blood donation camps, and distributed clothes to the poor to mark the birth anniversary of Thalapathy (commander), as Stalin’s well-wishers and followers fondly call him.