In a move signalling the first signs of strain between him and the Maran family, DMK president M. Karunanidhi today announced his family’s decision to divest his wife’s holding of 20 per cent in Sun Network, run by the family of Union Minister Dayanidhi Maran.
Karunanidhi told reporters here that his wife, Dayalu Ammal, had chosen to ‘‘amicably relinquish’’ her shares in Sun TV, Kungumam, a Tamil weekly and other magazines of the group. From the proceeds she received, and after allocating sufficient amount towards Income Tax, she divided the total proceeds (among 21 members of the family) and gave him a portion of Rs 10 crore, he said.
Karunanidhi said he was floating the Kalaignar (Artiste) Karunanidhi Charitable Trust with a portion of his share in the Sun TV Group. Of his portion, Rs 5 crore would go to fund the new trust which would be utilised for Tamil language development and welfare measures for the people.
The move by Karunanidhi’s family to divest from the Rs 600-crore Sun TV Group comes in the wake of speculation that the 82-year-old DMK patriarch is quite piqued with the channel’s managers for virtually blacking out his son, MK Stalin, the DMK’s deputy general secretary, who is being groomed to take over the DMK reins.
While partymen hailed Kalaignar (artiste), as Karunanidhi is referred to in political circles, for his ‘‘extraordinary gesture’’ in donating his money for a public cause, the move brought into open his displeasure with the Sun TV proprietor.
Karunanidhi has made no secret about his differences with the channel’s news coverage. There has been much heartburn within the party that the Sun TV Group headed by Kalanidhi Maran, brother of Dayanidhi Maran, and son of Karunanidhi’s favourite nephew, the late Murasoli Maran, was giving ‘‘poor coverage’’ to the party and its heir apparent, Stalin.
Recently the Group bought over Tamil daily Dinakaran and even launched an eveninger Tamil Murasu. DMK followers have been complaining that Dinakaran, which in the past devoted much space for the party’s views and ideologies, hardly gave space for it now.
Some in the DMK said the provocation for the sudden decision to divest shares was an article which appeared in a little known Tamil journal published by a DMK sympathiser in Kancheepuram, hitting out at Sun TV and its ‘‘growing arrogance’’. It was Murasoli Maran who had insisted that Karunanidhi’s family be made shareholders when the group was launched more than 15 years ago.
With the withdrawal of Karunanidhi’s family, including Stalin, the Sun TV Group will now have only the Maran family for stake-holders. When reporters sought the views of Kalanidhi Maran, whose Sun TV office lies in the same premises as the DMK headquarters, Anna Arivalayam, he declined to comment on the issue.