DMK president M Karunanidhi suspended his elder son and former union minister M K Alagiri from the party’s primary membership on Friday, intervening dramatically in the tussle between Alagiri and his younger brother M K Stalin currently being played out in the streets of south Tamil Nadu.
The DMK statement, issued by general secretary K Anbazhagan, accused Alagiri, the party’s south zone organising secretary, of backing renegades, dissuading partymen from functioning, and acting against the interests of the party by badmouthing the leader of a potential ally.
Following his recent attempts to foment trouble within the DMK, the statement said, “Alagiri continuing in the party is not proper, as it will further affect the discipline”.
The statement, issued from the party headquarters at noon, comes a week before Alagiri’s 63rd birthday on January 30, an important date for his supporters. The DMK had expelled five of his supporters earlier this month after posters appeared on walls in Madurai, ostensibly celebrating his upcoming birthday but always referring to his running feud with Stalin, Karunanidhi’s chosen political heir.
Alagiri himself was put on notice after he openly berated DMDK leader Vijayakanth with whom Karunanidhi and Stalin are keen to strike an alliance ahead of the Lok Sabha election. Selvi, the brothers’ sister, managed to broker temporary truce after which Alagiri left for Hong Kong, but trouble simmered in the southern district where his loyalists continued to put up “offensive” posters and filed police complaints against senior leaders who tried to prevent them. On Thursday, the DMK suspended five more leaders from Madurai.
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Returning to Chennai on Thursday night, Alagiri went to Karunanidhi’s Gopalapuram residence on Friday morning. It was not clear what transpired inside, but soon afterward, Karunanidhi met senior leaders including Stalin, and the suspension was announced. According to party procedure, suspension is the step before expulsion.
At the heart of the tussle is Alagiri’s refusal to accept Stalin as Karunanidhi’s heir, even though much of the party apparatus and Karunanidhi himself are with the younger brother. Stalin is now the treasurer of the party, number three after Karunanidhi and general secretary Anbazhagan. The two veterans have made it clear that they prefer Stalin as the next party president and its chief ministerial candidate.
The last time the DMK took such a stern measure against Alagiri — in 2001 — it suffered the consequences in the assembly elections that followed. By taking action against him just before the Lok Sabha elections, the party seems to have taken a calculated risk.