South Indian actress Khushbu is only the latest in the long list of film personalities to walk out of the grand old DMK in anger. The party that has a direct link to Kollywood has seen several grand ingresses and inglorious egresses of film stars. But it was MGR’s exit in 1972 that caused maximum devastation to DMK: It couldn’t return to power as long as the charismatic icon was alive. Compared to that, Khushbu bidding adieu to the party, whose many an engagement she had sizzled with her presence and eloquence, is of no significance politically.
Yet, the distress of the actress-turned-TV personality-turned politician over the DMK not reciprocating her “dedication and hard work” has a political significance. First, the entry of a primarily Hindi-speaking Mumbai girl into a Dravidian party and her quick ascension to a stage where she could share stage with supremo M Karunanidhi are significant developments. For they did happen because Karunanidhi apparently wanted them that way. So, if she is frustrated now after giving 100 per cent to the party as its star campaigner even in the last election, there should be something different within the DMK from 2010 when she joined it with much fanfare.
Else, would she leave the party that is in the lurch when she still has the highest regards for Karunanidhi, as she has tweeted, just like that? That, too, when there seems to have been no change in her status as a favourite functionary of the party president. The only indication is that Karunanidhi is now just a de jure party president, who has been turned into a figurehead by his son, M K Stalin. Unlike in 2010, the dynamics have changed and Karunanidhi has seemingly lost his grip over the DMK reins. It became evident when his elder son, M K Alagiri, was openly sidelined. Now through Khushbu, the fragrance of withering power has become all-pervasive.