Chennai: Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) chief M. Karunanidhi named his younger son M.K. Stalin as his successor on Thursday at a gathering of partymen.
“I will continue to work till my last breath for the party, and for the question who is after me, the answer is right here in the form of Stalin,” the former Tamil Nadu chief minister said at an event organized to welcome to the DMK about 2,000 members from rival party Pattali Makkal Katchi.
PMK chief S. Ramadoss had in early December opposed Dalit men marrying non-Dalit women, which sparked a furore among the party members.
This is not the first time that the octogenarian has indicated that Stalin will take over the party. Earlier in 2011, the DMK patriarch said there was no question regarding who would be the next party president.
Stalin, 59, son of Dayalu Ammal, Karunanidhi’s second wife, is the treasurer and youth wing leader of the party.
“Stalin is a good leader and if Jayalalithaa can be touted as a prime ministerial candidate by a group of people, Stalin has even better capabilities than her. But I’m not ready to discuss his role. You are asking me what will happen in the event of Kalaignar’s death. I’m not ready to discuss anything like that,” DMK parliamentarian K.P. Ramalingam said.
Stalin’s elder brother, Union fertilizer minister M.K. Alagiri, has always refused to accept his younger brother being named the heir-apparent. On numerous occasions, Alagiri has said he won’t accept any person other than his father Karunanidhi as his leader.
Alagiri will now have to take a stand depending on the emotions of his followers, which means he will have to either quit, or fight back for the sake of followers, said Cho Ramaswamy, a political commentator and editor of Thuglak, a Tamil weekly magazine
“Alagiri has never had any interest in politics,” Ramaswamy said. “It was Karunanidhi who had dragged him into it.”
In the early 1980s, Alagiri was asked to go to Madurai by Karunanidhi to take care of DMK’s party mouthpiece Murasoli. His role in Madurai gained prominence after the death of former highways minister Pasumpon T. Kiruttinan in 2003.
Stalin, on the other hand, has come up in the party through the ranks since 1975, when he was arrested for protesting against the emergency. He has been a member of the legislative assembly four times, Chennai’s mayor in 2001, and was also nominated deputy chief minister in 2009.
It was a long-settled issue that Stalin will be the successor of Karunanidhi, according to Gnani Sankaran, a political commentator. While senior party members such as K. Anbazhagan and T.R. Baalu have accepted Stalin as their future leader, why is Karunanidhi reiterating it now? Sankaran asked.
“The real reason for Karunanidhi’s statement today is to tactfully divert the attention from the issue of whether DMK will align with Congress in the 2014 elections,” said Sankaran.
Tamil Nadu chief minister J. Jayalalithaa on Monday said her party, the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, will contest the 2014 polls alone and not align with either the Bharatiya Janata Party or the Congress.
Even PMK has indicated that it will go solo, but the DMK, which had reluctantly supported the Congress on relaxing foreign investment rules for supermarkets, is yet to decide on its partner for the Lok Sabha elections.