Stalin begins exercise to rework DMK ahead of 2021 TN assembly polls
Preparing a roadmap for the 2021 assembly elections, DMK president MK Stalin has begun the restructuring of the party organisation with a plan to infuse young blood into it and galvanize it for the electoral battle lying ahead next year.
But, whether the change attempted and those expected to would help the party in its bid to return to power remains to be seen.
In what came as a surprise for many in the party and outside too, DMK veteran TR Baalu was stripped of his post of principal secretary of DMK Headquarters on Sunday. Trichy strongman KN Nehru was elevated to that office.
Replacing Baalu, who has been prominent for the party in the national capital for long and currently is the DMK Parliamentary Party leader, Stalin has brought to the headquarters a trusted lieutenant with organizational acumen and abilities. A district secretary for 27 years, his elevation was on the cards for some time but it got postponed due to the rural panchayat elections, in which he had ensured a clean sweep in Trichy and neighbouring Perambalur districts.
“Whether the DMK is in power or not he holds a daily darbar receiving petitions and settling disputes. In the mould of the old-style party district secretaries, he knows his turf more than the government officials and is a power centre in Trichy,” says P Ramajayam, teaching at the Centre for Social Exclusion and Inclusive Police, Bharathidasan University, Trichy.
Though Baalu has been reportedly sulking over this, the party has explained it away as adhering to the one-man one post principle.
“TR Baalu, currently holds the posts of Principal Secretary, Headquarters, and is also the DMK Parliamentary Party Leader. As such, KN Nehru is being appointed to the post at the party headquarters,” said a statement from the nonagenarian party general secretary K Anbazhagan.
“This is the beginning of the impending changes. Young faces will replace the old guard in the districts,” said a DMK senior who doesn’t want to be identified.
Apart from these changes, plans are afoot for Stalin to launch a state-wide outreach programme akin to the ‘Namakku Naame’ (We for Ourselves), held prior to the 2016 Assembly elections.
According to party sources, besides Nehru, senior leaders like EV Velu in Tiruvannamalai, Ponmudi in Villupuram and I Periyasamy in Dindigul, would be brought to the party headquarters and Young Turks in the waiting would be entrusted with the districts.
The possible replacement for Nehru in Trichy is said to be Mahesh Poyyamozhi, a long time associate of Stalin’s son and party Youth Wing chief, Udhayanidhi. Grandson of party veteran Anbil Dharmalingam, he has been eyeing the post of district secretary and Stalin too is believed to be inclined to concede that.
However, Ramajayam terms this as a cosmetic change lacking substance and not an organizational restructuring. Even the earlier bifurcation of district units by Stalin to have 65 district secretaries was more of a strategy to accommodate rival groups, he pointed out.
“The party leadership needs young blood. As of now, the senior leaders are past their prime. For the DMK to dethrone the AIADMK, cosmetic changes aren’t enough. As in the case of Mahesh, most of the replacements in the districts would be those close to the leadership and not necessarily those who have come up the ladder,” Ramajayam explains.