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For Kalaignar's legacy

For Kalaignars legacy

Even though DMK Chief M Karunanidhi made it clear before his death that his younger son MK Stalin would be his political successor, the elder son MK Alagiri has thrown his hat in the ring and claimed that most of the loyal workers of the party are with him. On Tuesday, DMK convened a key meeting of the executive council in Chennai to condole the death of party president Karunanidhi. Speculation is rife that a decision will be taken at the meeting to call the party's general council that will put its seal of approval to the elevation of working president MK Stalin as the party president. Alagiri was expelled from the party in 2014 after his constant criticism of Stalin and the party. As Karunanidhi himself remained ensconced in state politics and deputed his family members in the national politics, he was often under tremendous pressure from his family members who wanted an entry into mainstream politics on DMK politics. While Alagiri sought favour from his father for a role in the party affairs, Stalin chose to remain quiet and faithful to his father. He never showed any haste in asking for a bigger role in the party affairs and remained without a ministerial portfolio even during first four tenures as MLA. In the early stages of DMK's rise on Tamil Nadu's political scene, it was Murasoli Maran and his family who benefitted the most. Even as he got DMK tickets to contest Lok Sabha elections and became the member of Parliament and Union Minister on successive occasions, his family ran a hugely successful media business. Alagiri who was apparently involved in some corruption cases early in his career was sidelined from the party activities by his father. Alagiri moved to the southern district of Madurai and dabbled in business and politics while Stalin remained with Karunanidhi and looked after the party activities. The first political post that Stalin got was that of Mayor of Chennai Municipal Corporation. However, he became a minister and deputy Chief Minister when his father returned to power.

Alagiri's main grudge is that he never received the importance that he believed he deserved as the eldest son of the Karunanidhi family. Instead, the Maran family and others in the Karunanidhi family were entrusted with important tasks. Alagiri also believes that Stalin alone cannot successfully manage the party affairs and carry forward the political legacy of his family. It's true that after the demise of Karunanidhi, it is a difficult task for the next -generation leaders to reassert the position that DMK enjoyed in the state and national politics. There are fewer DMK leaders groomed for the task. So far, Stalin and Rajya Sabha MP Kanimozhi seem to be the chosen ones to inherit the rich legacy Karunanidhi has left behind. But with the death of AIADMK Chief J Jayalalitha and DMK Chief M Karunanidhi, the political scene in Tamil Nadu is left without any mass leader, who can win an election on his own. This vacuum invites politicians who have so far been on the fringe to the mainstream. This has happened with AIADMK, which has seen an intense fight for the Chief Minister's post. Party Secretary-General Sasikala's nephew TTV Dhinakaran had to fight the RK Puram byelection as an Independent as he was denied AIADMK ticket. The RK Puram constituency was earlier represented by Jayalalitha. In absence of Jayalalitha, AIADMK is said to be fast losing its grip on the voters as the party is increasingly facing the crisis of leadership. After the demise of Karunanidhi, DMK is also likely to face a similar crisis. Alagiri is the first to assert his right on the Karunanidhi's legacy. More members of the Karunanidhi's extended family are likely to make their political ambitions public. And this will mean fresh challenges for Stalin. In the last Assembly election, DMK won 88 seats in a house of 235 while ruling AIADMK won 116 seats. As of now, DMK is a competitive political force but in order to maintain its competitiveness in the state politics, Stalin will have to accommodate the political aspiration of his family members and use their influence in their respective areas to his advantage. An ugly fight for a share of the political fortune left behind by Karunanidhi would do no good to any one of them.

In the changed political scenario, the politics in Tamil Nadu is entirely in the hands of the next-generation leaders both in AIADMK and DMK. This would give rise to new political opportunities and leaders. The party which adapts fast to the changing realities would not only survive but also succeed in retaining the support of the people.

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