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M.K. Stalin and other DMK leaders pay tribute to M. Karunanidhi in Chennai on Tuesday. PTI
M.K. Stalin and other DMK leaders pay tribute to M. Karunanidhi in Chennai on Tuesday. PTI

DMK’s executive panel backs Stalin as next party president

Stalin pays tribute to Karunanidhi, urges partymen to stand united and fulfil the dreams of Kalaignar

Chennai: The executive committee of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) on Tuesday condoled the death of party chief M. Karunanidhi, and pledged its support for working president M.K. Stalin.

Anna Arivalayam, the party headquarters, erupted with loud claps and slogans as soon as DMK principal secretary Duraimurugan announced that “Stalin, the working president, will soon lead us as the president of DMK."

The meeting paid tributes to Karunanidhi, who died on 7 August, and recalled his contribution to both state and national politics and in ensuring regional autonomy and social justice.

Speaking at the meet, Stalin, who is also the leader of the opposition in the state assembly, said: “Let’s take a pledge that we will stand united and work towards fulfilling the dreams of Kalaignar."

An emotional Stalin, talking about the last-minute legal battle for the allotment of burial land for Karunanidhi at Marina Beach, said: “....I pleaded holding the hands of the chief minister (Edappadi K. Palaniswami) and requested a space for Kalaignar’s burial near his mentor Anna (C.N. Annadurai), but in vain."

He credited the DMK’s legal team for winning the case and said that if the Madras high court had denied a space at the Marina Beach, “it would have led to my own burial".

A general council meeting is expected to take place next month that will formally announce Stalin’s elevation as party president.

The DMK’s deputy general secretary Subbulakshmi Jagadeesan alleged that the centre was trying to split the party, adding, “We should not give any room for them to create a rift."

The long-standing differences between Stalin and his elder brother M.K. Alagiri had resurfaced on Monday with the latter claiming the support of “true loyalist cadres".

Alagiri was expelled from the party in 2014 by Karunanidhi for “anti-party activities" after he came out in support of the Bharatiya Janata Party and Narendra Modi ahead of Lok Sabha polls. The rivalry between the two brothers was also at its peak back then.

Stalin was made working president of the party in January 2017 after Karunanidhi’s failing health conditions stopped the veteran leader from presiding over party affairs.

In fact, the 2016 assembly elections had already seen Stalin take complete control of the party, with his extensive year-long “Nammakku Namme" (We for Us) campaign ahead of the election establishing him as the face of the DMK.

While the party lost to the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK), the DMK alliance with 98 seats in the 234-member assembly emerged as the largest-ever opposition in Tamil Nadu with just a 1.1% vote share difference.

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