DMK throws Alagiri out

Alagiri with supporters Tuesday.  PTI Alagiri with supporters Tuesday. PTI

The DMK on Tuesday expelled M K Alagiri, the suspended leader whose continuing tirade against the rival faction and open overtures to political opponents ahead of the Lok Sabha elections has become an embarrassment for the party and its first family.

The old fratricidal war between Alagiri and M K Stalin, the younger son and chosen political heir of DMK president M Karunanidhi, has now escalated to a new level.

“Even after his suspension, instead of offering an appropriate explanation, Alagiri continued to criticise the party and defame leaders. Hence I consulted DMK general secretary K Anbazhagan today and we have decided to remove him from the DMK permanently,” Karunanidhi told reporters.

Alagiri, who has made a name for himself as an efficient election manager, however, refused to fade away quietly, warning that the DMK would regret its decision. “This is not the first time (that I am facing such action), and I am not much concerned. But the real effect of this will be seen in the coming election,” he told The Indian Express.

Alagiri said he had raised several questions about the conduct of internal elections in the DMK, and had failed to get a response. “Shall I interpret the silence as admission of guilt?” he asked, indicating that the fight is set to turn more personal and ugly in the coming days.

His hand now forced: no more guessing, time to reveal cards

For M K Alagiri, the dismissal is the moment of truth. In this complicated game beset with bluffs and undercuts, he has been asked to show the cards that he so far had kept close to his chest. The next one month will reveal what he is capable of doing, which in turn would decide where Alagiri would be after that.

He has so far kept everyone guessing by calling on Manmohan Singh and Rajnath Singh, hailing Narendra Modi, and entertaining Lok Sabha candidates from all parties except his own. But those who have been following his career are convinced he is unlikely to float a new outfit, at least not in seriousness.

On his own, he lacks the stature of a leader to ensure the victory of any candidate. With his work in the last two years, his rival and brother Stalin has weaned a large chunk of loyalists away from the south. Also, with Karunanidhi himself backing Stalin as the next leader, a majority of the DMK rank and file has accepted his leadership. This explains why there was no show of support from the second or even third rung of the party hierarchy when he was suspended in January.

This is not to say Alagiri is absolutely insignificant to the DMK’s future. The support base he claims to have could well be small, but the tiny number attains a clout disproportionate to its size in an election as tight as this one. This could prove crucial in half the …continued »