SETTING THE stage for a succession war within the DMK, expelled party leader M K Alagiri claimed on Monday that all the “true loyalists” of his father, M Karunanidhi, were with him. His statement came on the eve of the DMK executive council meeting on Tuesday.
Speaking to reporters after visiting his father’s burial site, Alagiri said: “I shared my concerns with him (Karunanidhi). My leader’s true loyalists are with me. All are supporting me. Time will prove it.” He was accompanied by his son, Dayanidhi Alagiri, and daughter, Kayalvizhi.
While he said his concerns were about the party, not family, Alagiri refused to talk about the DMK meeting on Tuesday. “I am not part of the party,” he said. Alagiri was expelled from the party in 2014 for “anti-party activities”.
There was speculation that the decision to elevate M K Stalin, DMK working president and Alagiri’s younger brother, to the post of party president may be taken at the executive council meeting on Tuesday. However, party leaders said the meeting had been convened to condole Karunanidhi’s death. “The elevation of Stalin to the top post is likely to take place on September 15, the birth anniversary of Anna (DMK founder C N Annadurai),” said a party leader.
Alagiri and Stalin have been at loggerheads for years over who will inherit Karunanidhi’s legacy. Before his expulsion, Alagiri had famously questioned if the DMK was a “mutt” where the pontiff could anoint his successor.
While most of the top DMK leaders did not want to comment on Alagiri’s remarks, a senior leader questioned his claim. “When he says all true loyalists of Karunanidhi are with him, what is the number or percentage? For instance, we have over one crore members in Tamil Nadu. The party has to take him seriously if Alagiri has the support of 25 per cent of them. If he does not have the support of even 2.5 per cent, there is no point in talking about Alagiri,” said the party leader who did not want to be named.
A source close to Stalin said he would never accommodate Alagiri in the party. “If Alagiri is taken back, both he and his son, Dayanidhi Alagiri, will be a perennial problem. Stalin will never do that,” said the source.
While Alagiri lives in Madurai — he was sent there in the ‘80s to look after the party’s affairs in central Tamil Nadu — his son lives in Chennai. “Dayanidhi was a successful film producer when DMK was in power. Under the shadow of the party, he also owned a cable TV network, a technology park, a college and granite business. The college has been sold now. The other businesses too have been shut down or are no longer active. He has political ambitions… Stalin is trying to launch his son, Udayanidhi, also into politics,” said a senior DMK leader.
Amid reports that Alagiri may strike an alliance with actor-turned-politician Rajinikanth, an office-bearer of Rajinikanth’s organisation said: “Both of them are very good friends. Rajinikanth is closer to Alagiri than Stalin. But there is no need for Rajinikanth to go with Alagiri, who has no support base or reputation.”
A DMK leader asked why Alagiri would go with Rajinikanth when the actor himself is confused about his political entry.