CHENNAI: DMK’s youth wing secretary Udhayanidhi Stalin’s growing grasp on the DMK has become the subject of debate among its cadres and second-rung leaders.
At a time when the DMK is aggressively looking to gain power in the State, two well-known personalities in the party have made their displeasure clear over Udhayanidhi’s hold and its consequences to their own rise within the party.
DMK’s former deputy general secretary VP Duraisamy, who recently joined BJP, lamented that he had to plead with Udhayanidhi for a Rajya Sabha ticket although he was several years Udhayanidhi’s senior. Then the recent rebel MLA Ku Ka Selvam, who represents the Thousand Light assembly constituency from where DMK president MK Stalin was elected for four times, said that Udhayanidhi hampered his chances of becoming a district secretary of the Chennai West district unit. He also said that the party was now under Udhayanidhi’s control.
No snakes, only ladders
The rise of Udhayanidhi within the party was an open secret in the last two years. But even before that he was the managing director of Murasoli, the party's newspaper. After being made the head of the party's youth wing, a post held by his father MK Stalin for long, his influence in the party has become very visible. A common lament has been that even Stalin, who toiled through the ranks to become the party's president, never enjoyed such privileges during his younger days.
One of the district functionaries of the DMK Northern district, who frequents Anna Arivalayam and the residence of MK Stalin, told Express, “There is no doubt, major decisions over the party affairs are taken in consultation with Udhayanidhi Stalin and he indirectly controls the entire party. For example, to accommodate his close associate Mahesh Poyyamozhi in the line of district secretaries, Trichy district party units were divided into three units from two units and he was made in-charge of one district unit.”
Other major appointments that had the mark of Udhayanidhi were the Namakkal district unit in-charge Rajesh and recently Chitrarasu to the post left vacant by demise of J Anbalagan. Chitrarasu's appointment as the Chennai west district unit secretary was a stark display of Udhayanidhi's influence. "In our party, functionaries from the youth wing were never directly given such a post in the parent body. They have to serve in the party's parent body for a few years at least. But Chitrarasu was made a district unit in charge directly from the youth wing," said an old-timer in the party.
A new coterie in party
As the influence of Udhayanidhi is becoming more and more apparent, sycophancy also becomes louder. Even when he was not an MLA, DMK MLAs had showered praises on Udhayanidhi in the State's assembly.
A first-time MLA of the party told Express, “Recently, Qatar unit of DMK released an anthem to congratulate Udhaynidhi Stalin for his successful one year term of heading DMK’s youth wing. The news was published in Murasoli. To my knowledge, such a song was not scripted even for CN Annadurai, founder of DMK.”
“Will the Murasoli publish the same kind of news for women wing leader Kanimozhi or student wing leader Ezhilarasan if any party cadres released songs on them? Udhayanidhi is enjoying the privileges of being the son of the party president and even MK Stalin had not enjoyed such a kind of privilege during his early days,” he added.
A former headquarters orator of the party had this to say: “One month ago, Hasan Mohamed Jinnah, deputy secretary of DMK youth wing, wrote an article under the title 'Iyakkaththai Thangum Ilaiya vizhuthu' (the youngest who shoulders the party) and the two parts of the article were published on two days in the Murasoli. The article was in praise of Udhayanidhi’s hard work for the betterment of the party.
DMK sources who spoke to Express on the condition of anonymity said that Udhayanidhi has been in control of the party mouthpiece ‘Murasoli’, considered a gazette for the partymen, for several years as MD of publication. Since then, substantial space has been allocated in Murasoli for news items which may be in favour of him or his associates.
For example, two weeks ago DMK women’s wing secretary Kanimozhi conducted a video-conference interview for selecting the right candidates for the women wing of Trichy South district unit. Two days later, Murasoli carried a photo in which DMK south district unit in-charge Mahesh Poyyamozhi, a close confidant of Udhayanidhi, was seen watching the video-conference interview.
If the intention was to publish the news itself, it should have been the photo of Kanimozhi, who conducted the interview, that was published, said sources.
Experience doesn’t matter
Usually, none of the youth wing functionaries are directly posted as district secretary and district in-charge for the parent body. Mostly, they would be given parent body postings either as union secretary or town secretary. But, after Udhayanidhi’s influence increased in the party’s key decisions, Rajesh, Mahesh Poyyamozhi and N Chitrarasu were made district-in charges for the parent body.
Even J Anbazhagan rose from T Nagar area youth wing organizer, secretary for the T Nagar area DMK and was only posted as district secretary after proving his organizing skills and calibre to control the party.
In another example, M Anbazhagan has been serving as a Tiruchy town secretary for more than 18 years. Earlier he had served as a youth wing organizer for Tiruchy town for ten years. Even after 28 years of party service, he wasn’t given district in-charge post but in the same district, Mahesh Poyyamozhi was made district in-charge without the required experience of organising any public meeting and any state-level conference of the party, said sources.
Express tried to reach Mahesh Poyyamozhi and Hasan Mohamed Jinnah, both very close to Udhayanidhi Stalin, they didn’t pick the call despite several attempts to reach them.
Responding to the charges, RS Bharathi, organising secretary of the party, “It is only due to jealousy. The same kind of charges were hurled against our president MK Stalin when he launched the youth wing of the party. There is nothing to charge against the party leadership hence they use Udhayanidhi Stalin’s name only for gaining political mileage. He is working only for the youth wing, nothing more than that. Before making charges against him they should realise their capacity.”