Karunanidhi says Stalin will succeed him as DMK chief
DMK chief M Karunanidhi on Thursday dropped the clearest hint yet that younger son M K Stalin would be his successor. But supporters of Stalin’s challenger and brother M K Alagiri downplayed it, saying there was no point in talking about succession when Karunanidhi was alive.
Karunanidhi’s statement came at an event to induct 2,000 former PMK cadre into the DMK. The defectors were led by Samuel Chellapandian, one of the PMK’s Dalit faces and a district secretary in Vellore.
Karunanidhi’s favour of Stalin came along with a declaration of lifelong support for depressed and marginalised communities. “I will work for the upliftment of the society till death. But, for the question who after me, the answer is M K Stalin who is sitting here and you should not forget it,” he said to applause.
The announcement had been in the pipeline ever since Stalin’s elevation to the post of deputy chief minister in 2009, when he managed the administration given his dad’s ill health. In what was perhaps an indication of things to come, Karunanidhi had heaped praise on Stalin at an event in November last, saying the DMK treasurer had lived up to his expectations. Other party leaders had hailed Stalin as a fit candidate to take over as party president in the future.
But the biggest hurdle was his elder brother and Union Chemicals Minister Alagiri, who seized control of the party organisation in the southern parts of the State. Though Stalin remained the clear front-runner for the better part of the last decade to take over the party leadership, the DMK’s victory in the 2006 Assembly elections saw the sibling rivalry snowball.
Anjanenjan or braveheart, as Alagiri is hailed by supporters, had been banished to Madurai in 2000 by Karunanidhi and was seen as instrumental in the party’s strong electoral performances in southern districts, overshadowing Stalin who managed the North.
Stalin too has been chipping away at Alagiri’s clout through the youth wing elections. He replaced many of his brother’s loyalists with his own. Alagiri later fumed in public that his recommendations were ignored.
For their part, Stalin loyalists said Karunanidhi’s indication was on expected lines. They said their thalapathi (general) had risen from the lowest rungs of the party organisation and always enjoyed the favour of Karunanidhi over his siblings.