Back in the forefront of Tamil Nadu politics just months ahead of the next Assembly elections, MK Alagiri, the elder son of late former chief minister M Karunanidhi, lashed out at MK Stalin, his younger sibling and the CM-face of principal opposition DMK, at a meeting of his supporters on Sunday evening.
Claiming he was chucked out of the DMK despite being a selfless worker, Alagiri accused his brother of trying to appropriate his father’s legacy by projecting himself as his successor.
Addressing the gathering at an auditorium in Madurai, Alagiri stopped short of announcing a new party, as was speculated earlier, even as his followers held up posters welcoming him to the launch of ‘Kalaignar DMK’ (KDMK).
Urging his supporters to accept whatever decision he takes “soon” on his future course, Alagiri’s maiden public speech, away from his brother’s shadow, focused largely on his contribution to the DMK claiming that he was thrown out and labelled a “betrayer” in spite of his “selfless work” for the party over the years.
Claiming it was his leadership that helped DMK win many elections in southern Tamil Nadu, Alagiri said his father appreciated and acknowledged his efforts for the party. Listing a number of electoral battles, including the 2009 Thirumangalam bypoll, Alagiri said everyone ridiculed the DMK victory labelling it as ‘Thirumangalam formula’. “There was no Thirumangalam formula. We did not pay Rs 1,000 or Rs 2,000 (for votes), but worked hard night and day to win the election,” he said.
Alagiri also recalled the two occasions when Stalin approached him and sought his support to “grab posts” in the party. Referring to Stalin’s visits to his Madurai residence, once with close aides and the second time with his wife, Alagiri said he told his younger brother that he would be the next leader of the DMK. “I told Stalin ‘you are the leader’. I was requested to recommend his name for key posts. I took the phone and asked Kalaignar (as Karunanidhi was fondly called by many) to fulfil my younger brother’s wish. I told Stalin and Kalaignar many times that I do not wish posts or power in the party. I always worked as an obedient party cadre. I supported Stalin’s elevation each time. Despite all this, I do not know why they called me a betrayer,” Alagiri said.
While not opening his cards about his political future, Alagiri’s did give a broad hint that he had a plan ready.
Levelling a serious charge at Stalin, Alagiri said that Karunanidhi was reluctant to contest the 2016 Assembly polls but his younger brother forced him otherwise. “Stalin knew that the party can win only if we fight the election projecting Kalaignar as the CM candidate. He was forced to contest, which eventually weakened his health. There were times when Kalaignar’s frail health was evident in his public speeches. But they forced him to make campaign speeches despite his ill-health. However, I don’t want to talk too much about all that,” Alagiri said.
He added that Karunanidhi made many leaders ministers and they got richer and yet, none were thankful to him. Accusing the present DMK leadership of compromising on the ideals that his father sought to uphold as party chief, Alagiri said, “There is no alternative to Kalaignar. There was only one Kalaignar. Nobody can come anywhere near his level of knowledge and wisdom.” While he didn’t name anyone, it was clearly a jibe at his brother who has been trying to project himself as Kalaignar’s successor.
Assuring followers that he would soon decide on his future, Alagiri vowed to remain in service of the people.
Sent to Madurai in the 1980s by Karunanidhi to take care of party work, Alagiri was removed from the DMK in 2014 for alleged anti-party activities.
In November 2020, The Indian Express reported about Alagiri’s plan to launch a new outfit to take on the DMK. He had plans to address his followers on November 20 and meet BJP national president Amit Shah on November 21 in Chennai. But what, reportedly, made him hold off on his plans was a word of advice from veteran DMK leader Duraimurugan. Wary of the embarrassing prospect of Karunanidhi’s son floating a rebel outfit and linking his lot with the BJP, Duraimurugan promised Alagiri that he would talk to Stalin and ensure a deserving post for his son Dayanidhi Alagiri.
It was also speculated that Alagiri, who is known to have a camaraderie with superstar Rajinikanth, may join hands with the Thalaivar. However, the latter nixed his political plunge citing ill health.