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 with DMK general secretary K Anbazhagan today and we have decided to remove him from the DMK permanently,” Karunanidhi told reporters.
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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.
Alagiri was suspended after the latest fight between the brothers intensified, waged this time on walls in Madurai. Supporters of Alagiri put up posters criticising Stalin, and urging the Madurai-based son to take control of the DMK.
The party reacted by expelling five of Alagiri’s supporters.
But the posters continued to appear, and some of the cadres filed cases against senior district leaders under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, which riled the leadership further, and another five dismissals followed.
An enraged Alagiri returned from abroad and picked up a quarrel with Karunanidhi on January 24. The DMK chief revealed he used “hateful words” to say that Stalin would not live beyond a few months and, within a few hours, the party suspended Alagiri.
Alagiri began networking with lower-level leaders and cadres who belonged to his faction, and with disgruntled leaders who felt sidelined by Stalin’s faction.
At meetings and media interactions, he criticised the functioning of the party, questioned the suitability of election candidates picked by Stalin, and alleged that tickets were being sold to moneyed outsiders. A furious party leadership directed its cadres last Wednesday to sever all contacts with the dissident.
The final straw for the leadership seems to have been the long line of rival politicians at Alagiri’s residence, all seeking his backing in constituencies of southern Tamil Nadu, his area of influence. Though these leaders, from MDMK general secretary Vaiko to BJP candidate H Raja, claimed to have received his support, Alagiri remained ambiguous. He did not offer any commitment, but importantly, did not rule out his support either.