The rift in the DMK’s first family widened on Tuesday, with party president and family patriarch M Karunanidhi accusing his elder son M K Alagiri of “breaking” his heart by saying that his younger son and heir imminent M K Stalin would die “in three-four months”.
Revealing for the first time what transpired at the meeting between him and Alagiri, that led to the latter’s suspension within a few hours last Friday, Karunanidhi said, “Alagiri has an inexplicable hatred towards Stalin for a long time. At the height of it, early on January 24 morning, he came to my house and complained about Stalin while I was lying down. He used unwarranted and hateful words that enraged me. My heart breaks to even think of what all he said. He said Stalin would die in three-four months. No father can withstand this, but I did because I am also the president of the party.”
Accusing Alagiri of going to the media with complaints against the DMK general council’s decisions, Karunanidhi said, “Now he claims he was seeking justice… How is it wrong for me, as the party president, to question and condemn those who gave it in writing to the police seeking action against the party’s Madurai district secretary P Moorthy under the PCR Act? The party has taken action against Alagiri as per procedure. Instead of explaining his position in person or in writing, is it proper to paste posters on walls or give interviews?”
Karunanidhi’s statement led to a furore within the party circles, especially among Stalin’s supporters who burned Alagiri’s effigies in Madurai and Namakkal among other places, and put up posters in Chennai and elsewhere in protest.
Alagiri said he was shocked to learn about Karunanidhi’s comments. “I am accepting it as a birthday gift from him,” he said in Madurai, adding that he was not guilty of the charges against him. “Truth is being concealed, and that is why I went straight to the leader. I told him the party elections are not being held properly… I will always stand with the cadre,” he said.
Meanwhile, Alagiri’s son, Dayanidhi Alagiri, a film producer and businessman, took to the social media to accuse his grandfather of levelling false charges against his father.
“False accusations will not last long… the truth will come out soon… didn’t expect this from such an elderly leader (sic),” he tweeted. He also retweeted comments that questioned the veracity and timing of Karunanidhi’s statement.
Karunanidhi’s official Twitter account, operated by partymen close to Stalin, contained the video and transcript of his comments on Alagiri, who was suspended from all party posts and even the primary membership last Friday. Karunanidhi said on Tuesday that a decision on the demand to expel him would be taken in the coming days. Suspension is the first step before expulsion as per the party’s disciplinary procedure.
Yesterday, Alagiri had toned down his criticism against the leadership and even claimed that his statement that the party would lose all the Lok Sabha seats was said with good intentions. He denied reports that he had misbehaved with Karunanidhi on Friday morning.
The sibling rivalry between Alagiri and Stalin has been the gravest internal threat for the DMK. Over the years, Stalin has managed to secure the support of the party cadres and second-rung leaders, which has emboldened Karunanidhi to openly declare him as his chosen successor. But Alagiri has never missed a chance to make clear his opposition.