Alagiri hints at launching a new party, says won’t work with DMK
MK Alagiri, elder son of the late M Karunanidhi, on Thursday said he will take a decision on launching a party after a discussion with his supporters on January 3, ruling out any possibility of a rapprochement between him and the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) ahead of next year’s assembly elections.
“There is no chance of working with the DMK,” said Alagiri, whose father expelled him from the party over discipline issues in 2014. “I have fixed a consultative meeting on January 3 with my supporters in Madurai and I will take a decision based on their advice,” the 69-year-old, a minister in the UPA’s second term, told reporters after visiting his ailing mother in Chennai.
For decades, Tamil Nadu’s politics has been a witness to a sibling rivalry between Alagiri, who once oversaw the state’s southern districts for the party, and his younger brother MK Stalin, 67, who is now the DMK president and the party’s chief ministerial candidate for the assembly elections slated for early 2021.
On March 25, 2014, Karunanidhi, a five-time chief minister and one of the doyens of Dravidian politics, expelled Alagiri from the party in the middle of a succession battle, causing a split in the family. After Karunanidhi’s death in August 2018, Stalin became the party president.
“The party is consolidated under one leadership. So there is no way of bringing him (Alagiri) back,” said a DMK member on condition of anonymity. “Even if he starts a party, it will not have any impact on the DMK. Party cadres know that the DMK is on the verge of taking the elections by storm. Nobody will think of jumping camp now; it could finish their political career,” the leader said.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which is aiming to make a mark in Tamil Nadu, dismissed that Alagiri was in talks with the party despite a buzz to this effect. “We are not in talks,” state BJP president L Murugan told reporters on Thursday in Chennai. “We have both clarified on this. (But) the Tamil Nadu BJP is ready to welcome Alagiri or anyone who is willing to join the party. Several important leaders will join us soon,” he said.
In November, another expelled DMK leader and an Alagiri loyalist, KP Ramalingam, joined the BJP, an ally of the state’s ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK).
On Thursday, Alagiri said he could meet actor Rajinikanth, who is expected to launch his political party in January, when the latter visits Chennai, but ruled out any possible alliance. “I’ve not met him on his birthday (December 12)...I’ll meet him when he’s in Chennai,” Alagiri said.
The 70-year-old actor was out of town for shooting his latest film, Annathe, in Hyderabad under the Sun Pictures banner owned by Karunanidhi’s grandnephew Kalanidhi Maran. With shooting suspended after a few in the crew tested positive for Covid-19 on Wednesday, Rajinikanth is likely to return to the city soon.
Political analyst Sumanth Raman said the DMK is expected not to “lose sleep” over Alagiri floating a new party. “It’s a do-or-die battle for the DMK and Alagiri is looking to make himself relevant,” Raman said. “Even if a few disgruntled members gravitate to Alagiri’s new party, it will not impact the DMK. However, the BJP is seen to be sending out feelers to Alagiri to embarrass the DMK.”