September 5, 2018 10:10:09 pm
M K Alagiri’s intentions were clear: a rally that would be a show of strength and a message to estranged younger brother and DMK chief MK Stalin. “I am Thalaivar’s son, I will do what I said,” Alagiri had thundered while announcing his plan to organise a “peace rally” on September 5 to mourn the death of his father and former DMK leader Kalaignar Karunanidhi. The plan, as he announced, was a gathering of at least a lakh followers.
However, from the very beginning, things did not go well for the “peace rally”. First, there was an hour-long delay outside the D1 Police Station at Triplicane, apparently because there weren’t just enough people. At least, not as much as Alagiri had expected.
Soon it was clear that some signs of fear were marring the show of strength. And this came after M Ravi, the area secretary of Velachery, was expelled from the party soon after he welcomed Alagiri at the Chennai airport on Tuesday. This seems to have spooked other members of the DMK who are directly or indirectly suspended and still seem to nurture the hope that they will be allowed to rejoin the party. Participating in the rally might jeopardise those chances.
But not everyone was holding back. “Azhagiri is our leader. We don’t need to prove who we are. All true supporters of DMK are behind our leader, we just came here to mourn our Kalaignar,” Rajan, an expelled organising secretary from Theni district, told indianexpress.com. Sengammal, a very vociferous 55-year-old from Madurai, added: “Azhagiri is the one who respects true DMK supporters. All of us support him and he will be back in the party soon. If we want to come to power again, we need him back at the helm.”
While the rally was late to start, Alagiri joined in only later, closer to noon, in a black shirt and accompanied by son Dayanidhi. With anxious cadre shouting slogans like ”Anja Nenjan Azhagiri Vazhga” (Long Live Brave Heart Azhagiri), “Engal unmayana thalaivan vazhga” ( Long Live our true leader) the procession, which stretched close to 3 kilometres, finally ended at Kalaingar Memorial situated at Marina Beach.
Speaking to reporters at the memorial, Alagiri said: “We came here to mourn our Kalaingar, we don’t have any other intention. The rally ended successfully, I thank my true supporters, press and the police for ending this rally peacefully.” Asked about expelled DMK Cadre, Azhagiri countered: “Will you expel these one lakh followers who came out to support me?”
In between the show of strength and signs of fear, Alagiri clarified that the rally was just to mourn the leader and did not have any other intention. But the rally, which in the end did not have more than 10,000 supporters, was certainly a message to Stalin.
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