Bangalore / Chennai: After a by-poll win on 12 January, a succession plan may be unravelling at Tamil Nadu’s ruling Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) with party patriarch and state chief minister M. Karunanidhi formally assigning roles to his two sons—a subject that has in the past sparked off a family feud.
The DMK won a closely-watched assembly by-election for the Thirumangalam seat in Madurai district last Monday, after which Karunanidhi, 85, appointed his elder son M.K. Azhagiri the party’s organizing secretary for southern Tamil Nadu, a region where he commands considerable clout.
The move came a month after the appointment of M.K. Stalin, Karunanidhi’s younger son, as party treasurer, and the family’s reconciliation with Dayanidhi Maran and Kalanidhi Maran—grandnephews of the DMK chief.
“There is an open succession plan that Stalin will inherit the party,” said N. Sathiya Moorthy, director of the Chennai chapter of the Observer Research Foundation, a think tank. “Whatever impediments that might have been there, have been sorted out and cleared... Everyone is getting a specific role.”
Dayanidhi Maran, a former Union communications and information technology minister, was moved out of his post in May 2007 after falling out with Karunanidhi over reports published by Dinakaran, a Tamil daily his brother Kalanidhi runs. The reports, based on surveys, claimed that people preferred Stalin to Azhagiri as Karunanidhi’s successor.
Party spokesman T.K.S. Elangovan, however, said no decision on a succession has been taken by the party yet.
Stalin, 55, has long been associated with DMK and is currently the state’s minister for rural development and local administration.
“That (succession plan) has been there all the time,” said Cho Ramaswamy, a Chennai-based political commentator and editor of Tughlak, a Tamil magazine. He added that as of now, Stalin would be the candidate for chief ministership if Karunanidhi were to step down.