Millennium Post

Generational change in TN

After the death of AIADMK chief Jayalalitha in December 2016 and absence of DMK Chief M Karunanidhi from active politics in the last two years due to poor health, Tamil Nadu politics is practically over to the next generation of leaders. After intense infighting, AIADMK looks steady under the leadership of Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswam. The party is run by E Madhusudhanan as president and O Panneerselvam as the chairperson. Similarly, M Karunanidhi's younger son MK Stalin has been overseeing party affairs as the working president of the party since January 2017. Stalin is one of the many political leaders of the Karunanidhi clan, who have dominated the political scene in the state since the late 1960s. While most of the prominent leaders from the state like MG Ramachandran, J Jayalalitha and M Karunanidhi had a formidable fan following thanks to their successful film career and larger than life image, the current lot of politicians both in AIADMK and DMK have the only political background to boast of. It is for the first time that the politics in the state would be devoid of cult figures and the voters might have to choose their leaders based on their work instead of their celluloid image. With both leaders fading from the scene, the fierce rivalry between Jayalalitha and Karunanidhi that determined the political fortunes of the two parties is also part of the history now. For long, the spirited fight between the two political heavyweights dominated the political discourse not only in Tamil Nadu but also nationally. The changing political scenario now indicates that the state is finally back to routine politics where the agenda of the government would be determined by the promises of development and delivering on the promises. In the last Assembly elections conducted in 2016, AIADMK won 134 seats while DMK secured 89 seats. The next round of Assembly elections scheduled for 2021 may see a change of guard in the state and DMK working president who is currently the leader of opposition in the Legislative Assembly may become the Chief Minister. A lot of factors including the weakening of AIADMK in the wake of Jayalalitha's demise and a sympathy for ailing Karunanidhi may help DMK and Stalin to romp home. In the last two years when DMK chief Karunanidhi was mostly confined to his bed, most of the top leaders including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress President Rahul Gandhi, President Ram Nath Kovind and Vice-President M Venkaiah Naidu paid him a visit. Karunanidhi who dominated the political scene in Tamil Nadu for nearly 50 years is not only the most influential leader from South India but also a firm voice on many national issues. His support for the Tamil cause in Sri Lanka and LTTE leader Prabhakaran formed the background for India's policy for the trouble-torn island state and Tamil population in the country. DMK's ideology of demolishing Brahmin hegemony in society and governance and its opposition to the imposition of Hindi in government work and school curriculum defined the distinctive politics of South Indian states. Any national political party like BJP and Congress having a pan-India dream found it hard to ignore the presence of Karunanidhi in their bid to spread their wings in southern states. Proving to be an apt and capable opposition, AIADMK, which has its genesis in the split of DMK in 1972, has not only successfully challenged Karunanidhi's hegemony but also provided an alternative political narrative of the state. In the last Lok Sabha election, AIADMK won 37 seats out of total 39 from the state. In fact, the game of power in the state was always played out between these two parties in the last 50 years. Kauvery Hospital in Chennai where Karunanidhi was admitted since July 28 has announced his death. With this, the curtain falls on the career of one of the most illustrious political figures of our time. Karunanidhi who began as a scriptwriter in Tamil films and rose to political eminence through his oration marked with political messages and poetic language was the member of Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly 14 times and Chief Minister of the state for five terms. He has written a large volume of literature from short stories to novels and from poems to film scripts. The people in his state fondly called him Kalaignar (the artiste) as they called Jayalalitha Amma. At 94 when he died, like a consummate artist, he has finished the canvas with meaningful colours, subtle and loud. He leaves behind a large family -- extending into the fourth generation -- of leading politicians and prospering entrepreneurs.

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