Chennai: Long groomed as his heir to the Tamil Nadu chief minister’s throne and to head the DMK, M Karunanidhi on Friday appointed his son M K Stalin as the deputy chief minister of the state.
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The DMK chief, who appointed his 55-year-old son to be his deputy, entrusted to him the portfolios of Industry, General Administration, District Revenue Officers and Minority Welfare hitherto held by him.
Stalin, who still heads the party’s youth wing and had shot to fame after his incarceration under MISA during the 1975 Emergency, will also continue to hold the portfolio of Rural Development and Local Administration, a Raj Bhavan press release, announcing his appointment, said.
The elevation of Stalin, who was Chennai mayor during Karunanidhi’s earlier tenure between 1996 and 2001, has been on the cards for quite sometime as Karunanidhi had been having problems after his major surgery for back pain in February last. In his absence, Stalin was the main campaigner for the DMK in the Lok Sabha polls.
His elevation came a day after his elder brother M K Azhagiri was sworn in as union chemicals and fertilisers minister in the UPA government.
In a statement, Karunandhi (85) said he was unable to pay full attention to the administration because of his ill health.
“I have to clear not less than hundred files a week. I had discussed the issue with finance minister K Anbazhagan and asked him whether he can shoulder some more responsibility. He had also cited health reasons (for not taking up).
“After discussions, it has been decided that I will keep one or two important portfolios and Anbazhagan continue as the leader of the House in the state Assembly. Stalin will be after two of us’, Karunanidhi said.
Stalin, who was the DMK’s deputy general secretary, was promoted as party treasurer in June last year, giving him the number three spot in the party hierarchy, after Karunanidhi and another veteran general secretary K Anbazhagan, who is a year older than Karunandhi.
His elevation is seen as an attempt by Karunanidhi to pave the way for Stalin’s succession to the positions held by him.
Stalin had deputized for his father at the swearing in ceremony of the union Council of Ministers on Thursday in Delhi.
He bore the brunt of campaigning for the DMK in the just concluded Lok Sabha polls as Karunanidhi, who underwent a major surgery for his back pain in February last, had been advised against travelling by the doctors.
”Stalin has brought energy to the party and his hard work has been rewarded’, Kanimozhi, his sister and Rajya Sabha member said commenting on her father’s decision.
The organizational skills of Stalin came to fore when he conducted a massive youth wing conference of the DMK at Tirunelveli last year. There were demands in the conference that Stalin should be given more say in the government and party affairs but Karunanidhi said they would be considered at an appropriate time.
During the feud between the families of Karunanidhi and Maran brothers, Stalin took the initiative to bring it to an end amicably.
Known for his silent negotiating skills, Stalin successfully negotiated the seat-sharing arrangements with the Congress and Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi during the recent Lok Sabha polls.
He was said to have a key role in the selection of DMK nominees in Manmohan Singh government that was fully constituted on Thursday. Dayanidhi Maran reportedly Stalin’s choice in the ministry, besides Jagatratshagan, Gandhiselvan and Nepolean, who were inducted as ministers of state.
Stalin had always functioned from Chennai unlike his brother who was sent to Madurai to look after the party in the southern districts.
During his incarceration in Emergency, there were complaints that jail officials had attacked him and ill-treated him.
Chittibabu, then a DMK MP, who was his roommate in the jail who bore the brunt of the attack and died in the prison in 1976, DMK leaders had then claimed.