CHENNAI: With pressure mounting on DMK chief M Karunanidhi to axe party’s deputy general secretary K Duraimurugan - his staunch loyalist for more than five decades - the action or lack of it would show if Karunanidhi does have any residual clout in the party.
The resignation of actor Khushbu, who openly asserted her loyalty to Karunanidhi alone, has already raised questions over Karunanidhi’s control over the DMK. If the axe falls on Duraimurugan too, it could establish that Karunanidhi is now a figurehead in a party he controlled with an iron hand since the death of its founder C N Annadurai in 1969.
Duraimurugan has come under immense pressure from within the party following the ‘sentiments’ of long time ally, the IUML, which blames its defeat in the 2014 Parliament elections on the Vellore satrap.
He remains the only leader outside the sphere of influence of party treasurer M K Stalin, who tightened his grip on the party citing the rout in the Lok Sabha elections.
After the exit of the party’s southern satrap Vaiko two decades ago, Duraimurugan in the northern region, ‘Veerapandi’ Arumugam in the western region and Ko Si Mani in the eastern region were seen as key regional generals. Party general secretary K Anbazhagan has fully endorsed the succession of Stalin, while chief general secretary N Veerasamy is no more active in politics. Ko Si Mani, after his ill health, was sidelined, while Arumugam died two years ago.
That leaves Duraimurugan, who will celebrate his 77th birthday on July 1, as the lone top leader who has chosen not to earn the ‘Stalin loyalist’ stripes.
The whip to flog Duraimurugan, who was first elected to the Assembly in 1971, came from the IUML, which blamed him for its defeat in the Vellore Parliament seat. Party leader K M Khader Moideen claimed that the DMK mopped up about 35 lakh Muslim votes in Tamil Nadu due to its alliance with IUML. The Vellore constituency alone has about two lakh Muslim votes, out of which the IUML garnered about 1.70 lakh.
An analysis conducted by the IUML showed that over and above the Muslim votes, the party’s candidate got just 35,000 votes, Moideen asserted. In other words, the DMK vote transfer did not happen. The IUML could have won had it secured about 1.5 lakh votes of DMK supporters, he said and charged that the DMK functionaries had worked for the BJP front’s candidate. The party would convey its ‘sentiments’ to the DMK leadership, he added.
The functionaries of the IUML who spoke at the party’s recent executive committee meeting at Kumbakonam, lashed out Duraimurugan and demanded that the IUML snap ties with the DMK if it failed to initiate action against him, party functionaries from the delta region said. Most of the DMK leaders, whose suspensions were announced recently, are supporters of either former south zone secretary M K Alagiri or Kanimozhi. While Rajya Sabha MP K P Ramalingam and Virudhunagar district deputy secretary Bose are supporters of Alagiri, party’s Thanjavur district secretary S S Palanimanickam and Dharmapuri district secretary Mullaivendhan are supporters of Kanimozhi.
The suspension was a warning to those opposing the trusted generals of Stalin like K N Nehru, whose rival N Selvaraj’s supporters have also faced flak.