Tamil Nadu: DMK Emerges Stronger
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The DMK-Congress combine's routing of AIADMK in the Lok Sabha polls, Chief Minister M Karunanidhi's move to make his son M K Stalin his political successor, lawyers-police clash inside Madras High Court and uproar over Sri Lankan army's assault on LTTE hogged the headlines in 2009 in Tamil Nadu.

The state was also in news for "statue diplomacy" with neighbour Karnataka amid the Hogenakkal and decades-old Cauvery water disputes between them.

Defying pre-poll predictions, Congress-DMK combine romped home victorious in May general elections, grabbing 27 of total 39 seats in the state, making it a hat-trick of wins after its success in 2004 Lok Sabha polls and 2006 assembly elections.

Karunanidhi-led DMK also had the last laugh in subsequent bypolls to state assembly by trouncing rival J Jayalalithaa's AIADMK in crucial Tirumangalam constituency. The latter did not contest in five seats, alleging electoral malpractices.

The results surprised many as DMK managed to win despite Sri Lankan Tamils issue and anti-incumbency factor.

AIADMK, which in the past strongly opposed the LTTE, highlighted the Tamils issue during electoral campaigns. Jayalalithaa's abrupt volte face and the volatile situation -- since January over half-a-dozen people have died after setting themselves ablaze on the Sri Lankan Tamils issue --, forced Karunanidhi to change his stance and join the issue.

The 85-year-old DMK patriarch began an indefinite hunger strike to protest "cruel acts" against Tamils in Sri Lanka, prompting a concerned Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to phone him to assure that India was trying to influence Colombo to end its hostilities.

PMK turned out to be the biggest loser in the Lok Sabha polls, drawing a blank after aligning with the AIADMK, which suffered another set back when allies CPI and CPI-M walked out of the rainbow coalition, citing differences. Later PMK also snapped its ties with the Jayalalithaa-led party.

Meanwhile, the fledgling DMDK floated by actor Vijaykant continued to play spoilsport for AIADMK and even managed to outdo their rivals to come second in certain constituencies in the Lok Sabha polls.

Confusion prevailed in the DMK after the elections on portfolio allocation among top leaders -- Karunanidhi's son M K Azhagiri, grand nephew Dayanidhi Maran and A Raja -- though Congress refused to give plum portfolios like Telecoms, Surface Transport, Shipping and Highways.

Senior leader and former Shipping Minister T R Baalu had to make way for his junior party colleagues and was made DMK's Parliamentary leader in both Houses of Parliament.

The year gone-by saw Karunanidhi's Chennai-based son M K Stalin being elevated to a newly created post of Deputy Chief Minister. The move was construed by many as Stalin, long touted as Karunanidhi's heir apparent, being readied for the Chief Minister's post, even as his father hinted at a possible retirement next year after completing "some duties".

2009 also witnessed Tamil Nadu and Karnataka heralding a new era in relationship when chief ministers Karunanidhi and B S Yeddyurappa unveiled statues of saint-poets Tiruvalluvar (Tamil) and Sarvajna (Kannada) in Bangalore and Chennai respectively a few months back.

The reciprocal gestures marked a new beginning in ties between the states, locked in vexed Hogenakkal and decades-old Cauvery water disputes.
Emerging story. Watch this space for updates as more details come in
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