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Stalin faces post-succession challenges after taking over as DMK president

Filling the treasurer’s post, which MK Stalin currently holds, is seen as a critical challenge. There are several aspirants for the post in an election year.

india Updated: Aug 23, 2018 07:13 IST
M Manikandan
M Manikandan
Chennai, Hindustan Times
MK Stalin,DMK,Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam
File photo of late DMK chief M Karunanidhi (L) with his son MK Stalin. (PTI photo)

MK Stalin is likely to be elected as Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) president at the party’s general council meeting on Tuesday next, people familiar with the development said. This would be the party’s first such meeting following the death of DMK patriarch and Stalin’s father, M Karunanidhi, on August 7.

Karunanidhi had named Stalin as his successor. His is expected to have a smooth transition but may face a series of challenges after taking over the party.

Filling the treasurer’s post, which Stalin currently holds, is seen as a critical challenge. There are several aspirants for the post in an election year. Stalin chose to retain the post after being elected as working president in January 2017. The post is third in DMK’s hierarchy after that of the president and general secretary.

Stalin took over as DMK treasurer in 2008. It was seen as the first major stepping stone for his rise in the DMK.

A DMK parliamentarian said Duraimurugan, A Raja, I Periyasamy, V Velu and K N Nehru were in the race for the coveted treasurer post. It would not be an easy choice as caste and regional calculations will have a major say. “Velu is a close associate of Stalin and his family. He is expecting the treasurer’s post,’’ the member said on condition of anonymity.

“Stalin cannot ignore Duraimurugan and I Periyasamy. Duraimurugan is the most senior in the party after Anbazhagan and would be expecting to be recognized and rewarded for his services. Perhaps, promoting I Periyasamy, a Mukkulathor, will help Stalin to consolidate their (Mukkulathors) voter base.”

Mukkulathors are concentrated in southern Tamil Nadu and have traditionally supported DMK’s archrival, All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK). They have backed rebel AIADMK leader TTV Dhinakaran, who is Mukkulathor.

DMK’s relative weakness in western Tamil Nadu may go in Periyasamy’s favour.

“With Azhagiri (his brother) rebelling against Stalin, it will be in the interest of Stalin to elevate I Periyasamy,” the member said.

Stalin is likely to retain Anbazhagan, 96, as general secretary. Kanimozhi, his stepsister, may be elevated as deputy general secretary for siding with Stalin in his struggle for DMK’s control.

“Caste, regional as well as family considerations apart from ensuring that seniors throw their weight behind him would be the key factors in deciding who gets what. In case Duraimurugan is elevated as treasurer, former minister T R Baalu will be made principal secretary to control the activities at Arivayalam (DMK headquarters),” a leader said.

Political analyst A Marx said challenges for Stalin would not merely come from within the party. He said Stalin has to develop good equations with alliance partners. “…Karunanidhi maintained cordial personal relationships with leaders of all the major political parties. He always kept his ears open and made himself accessible to the alliance leaders. Stalin does not enjoy the same reputation of carrying allies with him,’’ he said.

“When he devised the election strategies for 2014 Lok Sabha elections, DMK’s long-term partners Congress and PMK were left out. In 2016 assembly polls, Dalit Party and DMK’s decade-old partner VCK also left the alliance. So, as a president Stalin has to develop skills to maintain a good rapport with leaders of other alliance parties leaders,” said Marx.

First Published: Aug 23, 2018 07:11 IST