Stalin appointed DMK chief amid ‘consequences’ threat from brother Azhagiri
MK Stalin was elected as the second president of the DMK on Tuesday at its headquarters Anna Arivalayam in Chennai as party workers burst crackers and shouted slogans in support of their new leader.
The DMK’s workers danced to drumbeats and shouted slogans of Aatchi Amaippom Aatchi Amaippom, Thalapathi (Stalin) Thalaimaiyil Aatchi Amaippom (We will form the government under the leadership of Stalin) after the announcement about Stalin’s elevation.
Stalin was elected as the DMK president, a post his father M Karunanidhi held for 49 years till his death on August 7, during a meeting of the party’s general council. The 65-year-old paid tribute to CN Annadurai and Karunanidhi after being elected as the president of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam.
The path to Stalin’s elevation was paved at the party’s executive committee meeting held on August 14 where senior leaders urged the “waiting prince” to lead them by taking over the party’s mantle. As the general council’s meeting began in Chennai, the hashtag DMKThalaivarStalin top-trended on Twitter with tweets congratulating Stalin flooding the platform.
A condolence resolution for Karunanidhi’s death was passed during the meeting. The deaths of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, former Lok Sabha speaker Somnath Chatterjee, former UN chairman Kofi Anan, and former Tamil Nadu governor Surjit Singh Barnala were also condoled. The DMK also granted Rs 2 lakh for the 248 party workers who died after they heard about Karunanidhi’s death.
Senior leader Duraimurugan was elected unopposed to the post of the party’s treasurer during the meeting and that of the working president, which was held by Stalin, was scrapped.
Threat from Azhagiri
The election of Stalin as the DMK’s second president was a smooth affair as all the 65 district secretaries of the party proposed his name for the top post and his was the only nomination.
Karunanidhi’s older son Azhagiri, banished by the patriarch from the DMK and who is in Madurai, has sought to be inducted back into the party after his father’s death. Azhagiri warned on Monday that if he was not taken back into the party, then DMK would have to face “consequences”. He has also announced his plans to hold a rally in Chennai early next month to show his strength.
Azhagiri had on August 13 claimed that all “loyal” party workers were with him and accused Stalin of blocking his return to the party, indicating a fresh succession war in the DMK. Later, he sought to project himself as someone who was not interested in posts and said he had never hankered for any position in the party even when Karunanidhi was alive.
Azhagiri had also claimed that if he was not readmitted into the DMK, the party leaders would face a similar defeat in the upcoming Lok Sabha election like in the last Parliament and assembly polls. He may work against the DMK in the by-elections in two assembly constituencies: Tiruvarur (fell vacant after Karunanidhi’s death) and Tiruparankundran (vacant after the death of AIADMK lawmaker AK Bose)
The former DMK strongman in southern Tamil Nadu, who has been flexing muscles since the death of Karunanidhi, said the rally in Chennai was being organised as per the wishes of the cadres.
“They (cadres) only wanted me to take the lead in organising the march to pay homage (to Karunanidhi),” he told reporters. “Kalaingar (Karunanidhi) is not there now. The party has to be saved and protected. If they don’t readmit me, they will have to face consequences,” Azhagiri said.
The DMK, however, has brushed aside Azhagiri’s claims and rallied behind Stalin. Experts have said Azhagiri may not be a challenge for Stalin within the party but may pose a hurdle from outside.
“I feel Azhagiri himself may contest in Tiruvarur. He may like to ride on the wave of being Karunanidhi’s own son. It is immaterial if he loses provided the DMK also loses,” political analyst Raveendharan Dhuraiswamy told IANS.
According to Dhuraiswamy, the poll scene in Tamil Nadu has changed to a three-corner contest between the AIADMK, DMK and AMMK led by Dinakaran.
Stalin will also be under intense scrutiny and would be compared with Karunanidhi for a long time. It may take some time and some election victories for Stalin to come out of his father’s shadows.
But whether the tenure is going to be smooth for Stalin has to be seen as he has to face the challenge of leading the party to victory in the ensuing by-elections in Tiruvarur and Tiruparankundran after a defeat earlier.
The DMK’s candidate in the RK Nagar by-election in Chennai lost his deposit and came a poor third after independent candidate TTV Dinakaran and AIADMK leader E Madhusudhanan.
There is also a complaint that Stalin as the DMK’s working president was not able to lure some of the disgruntled AIADMK legislators and come to power.
Stalin was given the role of the DMK’s working president in January 2017 after Karunanidhi was largely confined to his home due to age-related ailments.
(With agency inputs)
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