The reams of newspaper articles predicting the fallout of the DMK-Alagiri divorce can be split into two neat piles of equal measure. One forecasts that the sacking of MK Alagiri will result in a rout for the ‘original’ Dravidian party in south Tamil Nadu. And the second set describes M Karunanidhi’s elder son as the man who cried wolf.
The most reliable source, therefore, is the man himself. Alagiri, who spoke to HT for over an hour on Sunday, came across as a man in doubt but keen to sound mysterious.
He launches into long monologues about his grievances, his political differences and personal love for his estranged brother MK Stalin, his loyalty to the party and his father, his rise from an ordinary worker to ‘Annan Anjanenjam’ (brave heart) of the party and his newfound admiration for Narendra Modi.
Interrupt him to ask him the tough ones and he comes up with two stock replies: “So what?” and “Just you wait”.
Alagiri’s crowning moment came during Lok Sabha-2009 when, as the party’s south zone organising secretary, he delivered nine seats for the DMK. He also likes to refer to many famous assembly by-election victories that the party registered under his watch. Fact is, all these achievements came when his father was Tamil Nadu chief minister.
In a state where it is common for the AIDMK and DMK cadres to launch murderous attacks on each other, staying in power is the only route to stay alive. Hurting from three years of Jayalalithaa’s rule, the DMK cadres see little sense in Alagiri’s inarticulate call to defeat his parent party.
“It will be suicide,” says a party worker.
Madurai, Alagiri’s home since 1989, is perhaps the only place where he can have some impact. But even here, his influence is restricted to his core group. None of the party’s most powerful mobilisers – the district secretaries – are behind him; not even in Madurai.
Alagiri has always benefited from his past tantrums but the context this time is very different. Tamil Nadu’s electorate is siding with the AIDMK or the DMK with an eye on the Centre. As both Jayalalithaa and Karunanidhi struggle to straddle the Muslim vote with the Modi vote, the Alagiri conundrum has started fading from the equation.