DMK leaders back Stalin’s elevation a day after Azhagiri claims support of loyalists
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DMK leaders back Stalin’s elevation a day after Azhagiri claims support of loyalists

At a party meeting on Tuesday, Duraimurugan, DMK’s principal secretary and long-time aide of Karunanidhi, said Stalin had all the skills to lead the party.

india Updated: Aug 14, 2018 17:50 IST
M Manikandan
M Manikandan
Hindustan Times, Chennai
DMK,Stalin,DMK party meeting
Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam working president MK Stalin speaks during a condolence meeting for the M Karunanidh at Anna Arivalayam in Chennai.(PTI Photo)

The first executive meeting of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhgam after the death of party chief M Karunanidhi on Tuesday witnessed emotional scenes as tributes were paid to him while senior leaders requested working president MK Stalin to take charge, saying he had all the qualities to succeed his father.

The meeting at the Anna Arivalayam – the party headquarters in Chennai - saw hundreds of DMK leaders breaking down hearing the emotional speeches of senior leaders including Stalin and principal secretary Duraimurugan, eulogizing the contribution of Karunanidhi to the state.

Several high-level committee members of DMK also gave the green signal for making Stalin as the president on behalf of general secretary and Karunanidhi’s close friend K Anbazhagan.

Though it was only an executive meeting meant for the few hundred committee members of the DMK, an invitation was later extended to party MPs and MLAs, leading to around a thousand people gathering there.

A five-page condolence resolution for Karunanidhi was passed in the executive committee. As DMK spokesperson TKS Elangovan read out the resolution, it drew huge applause.

Duraimurugan, the party’s principal secretary and long time aide of Karunanidhi, made it clear that Stalin will be the next leader of the DMK.

“Stalin has the capacity to lead the party. We are ready to work with him. After the demise of (party leader) CN Annadurai, our beloved leader Karunanidhi had said he was borrowing Anna’s heart for running the party. Now, I assure you, Stalin has the hearts of Periyar, Anna and Kalaignar,” he said to applause from the gathering.

Addressing Stalin, he said: “Dear Thalapathi (commander, as Stalin is called in the party), who is soon going to become (DMK) president, we are prepared to follow your orders... lead us”, to loud cheers.

Former union minister and DMK high-level committee member TR Baalu declared that the Thalapathi will become the Thalaivar (leader) now.

“Kalaignar (Karunanidhi)’s demise is an irreparable loss to the party. But we pin our hopes on our working president. He will lead the party the same way Kalaignar always did,” Baalu said.

Stalin, in his speech, said he would follow in his father’s footsteps and “defeat all barriers”.

“It is unbelievable to conduct an executive committee meeting without Thailavar. While you workers have lost your leader, I have lost my mentor and father,” he said.

He said the meeting without Karunanidhi was “unbelievable” and it hurt that they failed to form the government when he was still alive.

“People are lauding me for getting a direction from the Madras High Court to bury Karunanidhi in Marina Beach. However, the credit should go to the legal wing of the DMK,” an emotional Stalin said.

“Setting aside my self-esteem and self-respect, I held the hands of chief minister Edappadi K Palaniswami and pleaded with him to allocate land in Marina for our leader. But he refused to allot it,” he said.

“But our legal team succeeded in getting directions from Madras High Court to bury Karunanidhi’s mortal remains. If the party had failed to get the Marina berth for Kalaignar next to his mentor Annadurai, I could have been buried in Marina instead,” he added.

He also urged the cadre to work hard to fulfill the dreams of Karunanidhi.

“I have advised the office bearers to work hard for forming the DMK government as a gesture to honour him. It hurts that we have failed to do it for someone who had struggled all his life. So, we should take it seriously now and fulfill his dreams,” he said.

he meeting came a day after MK Azhagiri, Karunanidhi’s estranged son who was expelled from the DMK, claimed to have the support of the loyalists of his late father, in what was seen as a succession pitch.

Azhagiri, a former Union minister in the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) regime, was sacked by his father ahead of the Lok Sabha elections in 2014 for alleged indiscipline amid a turf war with Stalin over establishing a supremacy in Tamil Nadu’s main opposition party.

His cryptic comments about differences with the “party” and not the “family” on Monday created a buzz. By evening, posters with his image had been splashed all over Madurai, the temple town in Tamil Nadu considered his bastion, referring to a new party the Kalaignar DMK.

First Published: Aug 14, 2018 17:49 IST