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Wednesday, Oct 27, 2021
Outlook.com

A Stalinist Rewriting

Karunanidhi makes it clear who he favours

A Stalinist Rewriting
Jitender Gupta
A Stalinist Rewriting
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53

BETWEEN M.K. Stalin, the political heir to the DMK throne, and Kanimozhi, the cultural heir, is there any room for Union minister and Madurai strongman M.K. Azhagiri in the party hierarchy? After DMK patriarch M. Karunanidhi announced that Stalin would be his successor, in the least equivocating manner that he could afford, it was on every mind: the future tumult awaiting Tamil Nadu politics. There was a latent sense of urgency. Almost as if everyone expected the two brothers’ legions to break into rioting in the streets and marketplaces of Chennai and Madurai with stones and sticks, soda bottles, machetes and firebombs. Nothing like that has happened yet, though one assumes there is always space in the script for some action.

Azhagiri’s response to the announcement of his sibling-rival’s succession was pithy: “dmk is not a religious math, where successors are anointed.” It’s a toss-back reference to something similar Karunanidhi had once said when asked about succession, taking a dig at the Brahminical traditions of the Shankara Math. It is a clever reminder, too, of the party’s atheist-rationalist ideology. The strongman is in no mood to sit quietly. After all, Stalin has been projected as the No. 2 long enough for animosity to build up. “It’s a power struggle in a dynastic family—very much like in other political families, where succession struggles are not uncommon,” says M.S.S. Pandian, an academician.

It was while addressing some 600 Pattali Makkal Katchi (pmk) workers who’d crossed over to the DMK that Karunanidhi dropped the first hint, saying his son Stalin would “continue  to work for the uplift of Dalits just as I have and his commitment to their cause is beyond question”. Later, addressing DMK workers, he got as...

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