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DMK elects MK Stalin as working president, father Karunanidhi remains chief

Stalin became DMK’s working president at the party’s general body meeting in Chennai. Karunanidhi remains as president but Stalin will enjoy similar powers and be in complete charge.

india Updated: Jan 04, 2017 11:53 IST
KV Lakshmana
KV Lakshmana
Chennai, Hindustan Times
Tamil Nadu,DMK,Stalin
DMK treasurer MK Stalin addresses a party meeting in Coimbatore. The 63-year-old was made working president of the party on January 4, 2017. (PTI File Photo)

DMK’s treasurer MK Stalin was elevated as the party’s working president on Wednesday, days after the ruling AIADMK party elected Sasikala Natarajan as the new chief after J Jayalalithaa’s death.

Party supremo M Karunanidhi, who was recently hospitalised twice, will remain president, but his son Stalin will enjoy similar powers and be in complete charge. Stalin will also retain the post of the treasurer till further orders.

The 93-year-old party patriarch was unable to attend the meeting having been advised rest but sent a message to the meeting that was read out.

The move, which has been expected among the party’s circles, was announced at a crucial general body meeting chaired by senior leader K Anbazhagan. Stalin’s name was proposed by Anbazhagan and seconded by an emotional S Duraimurugan.

Thalapathy (Commander) MK Stalin
  • DMK patriarch M Karunanidhi’s 63-year-old son is perhaps the longest serving political apprentice to his father
  • Had to fight a major battle within the family to edge out his brother Alagiri for the number one position
  • Began his political career when he was just 14, campaigning for DMK in 1967 elections
  • Was a student leader and took part in youth wing activities and emerged as a leader in his own right.
  • Served as the high-profile mayor of Chennai from 1996 to 2002 and the deputy chief minister in the DMK government headed by Karunanidhi from 2009 to 2011
  • Is DMK’s treasurer and president of its youth wing
  • Was arrested under MISA during Emergency and came into limelight
  • Lost just two elections and won six times, the last five consecutively from different constituencies

Stalin bowed and touched the feet of Anbazhagan as soon as the announcement was made at a crowded auditorium located at the DMK headquarters in Chennai. His sister Kanimozhi was among the audience.

In a brief acceptance speech, Stalin said that the circumstances in which he was assuming charge as the working president in the absence of his father had decreased his satisfaction.

Read | Stalin’s accession in DMK: Not a matter of if, but when

“It is a big responsibility and I accept the post at this juncture,” Stalin said, adding that it reminded him of his father’s words that “position is not about just getting a post but it is responsibility towards your position.”

In a message to the critics of DMK, who often take potshots for its dynastic politics, Stalin said that he has been active in electoral politics ever since he was a child and contested each and every position to rise up in the ranks.

“I did not get any post because of the family. I fought elections and won,” Stalin said.

The DMK constitution was amended to create the post of a working president, with same powers as that of the president.

After the general council meeting, Stalin and other senior party leaders called on Karunanidhi at his residence.

There was a growing clamour within the party for Stalin’s ascension, especially since Karunanidhi’s bouts of ill-health. As it stands, Stalin has already been taking the reins, placing trusted aides across districts.

The DMK patriarch also declared his son as his political heir in a recent interview to a Tamil magazine as “he had proven himself as a leader of the party”.

The change in guard also comes at a time AIADMK leaders have appealed to the interim general secretary Sasikala to take over as the chief minister of Tamil Nadu, a move Stalin had said was “sycophancy”.

Political analyst Ramu Manivannam said Stalin has a big challenge cut out for him as there are important issues like drought, farmers suicides and the issue of governance.

But Stalin would have it easier as he has already proven and established himself in the party as a leader of substance, he added.

Read | Why Sasikala as Tamil Nadu CM could backfire on many fronts

First Published: Jan 04, 2017 09:09 IST