February 23, 2020
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The Kanimozhi issue has brought out into the open the hostility harboured by the members of the Karunanidhi clan towards her

Chennai Corner

Papa don’t preach

The Kanimozhi issue has brought out into the open the hostility harboured by the members of the Karunanidhi clan towards her. Natural, some would say and certainly with no fairytale ending that Mani Ratnam scripted in Agni Natchatram many years ago when he got two step brothers (Prabhu and Karthick) to join forces to vanquish a common enemy to save their father. That’s not going to happen here. Having said that, one must also say that what happened to the step sisters of Grimms fairy tales may not happen to Kanimozhi. She’s got her ambitious mother, Rajathi Ammal, to play tigress to her cub. Incidentally, it is said that it was because of Rajathi Ammal’s towering ambition that Kanimozhi morphed from a literature-loving poet to a Rajya Sabha MP who almost made it into UPA II till the PM firmly said that Karunanidhi could not pack the cabinet with his family members. Kanimozhi was out but she insisted that Raja was in. And we know why now.

Now, all indications are that Kanmozhi will be fed to the wolves once she loses the protective umbrella of her father, CM Karunanidhi. And, he seems to know that. So, at a time when the party was going to leave her out in the cold, Karunanidhi made it a point to go to her CIT colony residence (where he usually spends his afternoons) to pick her up and take her to the 30-member high-level meeting called this week to deal with her being named as a co-accused in the chargesheet filed by the CBI before the court in the 2G scam. Kanimozhi was reluctant to go ostensibly because she was going to be discussed and therefore did not want to embarrass the leaders. But Karunanidhi insisted she go and at 87, he gave his 43-year-old daughter the crutch she needed to go and face the party as well as the swarm of mediamen at her house and Anna Arivalayam, where the meeting was held.

Jailhouse rock

Even though she told the meeting, “Treat me like a foot soldier of the party, not the leader’s daughter,” she was treated with kid gloves. And even if she is arrested what has happened to A Raja in Tihar jail, where he is marking time on his own, is not going to happen to her. Karunanidhi told the meeting, “This is not an attempt by me to save my daughter. Protecting Kanimozhi is important to ensure that the DMK’s image is not tarnished.” True, but her going to jail will be very different from when son Stalin went to jail as a student leader during the emergency where he was reportedly bashed up within an inch of his life. Also, according to a senior minister, “Karunanidhi often recalls that Kanimozhi was the only one to give him moral support during his infamous midnight arrest by the Jayalalitha government in 2001. Kanimozhi would sit at the entrance of the central prison and spend time with him during his bad times.” It’s clear that just as much as Karunanidhi dotes on his daughter, Kanimozhi returns the favour.

The solitary reaper

Kanimozhi should have no illusions that barring her father, the rest in the family including step-brothers Stalin (who diplomatically chose the “no comment” route ) and Azhagiri (who pointed out to the patriarch that since mother Dayalu who owns 60 per cent stake in Kalaignar TV had been spared, the 2G scam was not close to home!) stood by her at the meeting because of any great sibling affection. They wanted to protect the party. After all, the party is their future even if a split in the party is widely anticipated in a post-Karunanidhi scenario. Actually, despite all the raging he did earlier this week after Kanimozhi figured in the charge sheet, even Karunanidhi made it a point to mention that he put party above his favourite child. At a time when the DMK is left with no cards to play, it seemed better to genuflect. Maybe the father in him told him to bend and crawl to save his daughter. But saving the party was the aim!

Marans’ sunny future

If Stalin and Azhagiri have reason to treat her with antipathy, the Maran brothers (Dayanidhi and Kalanidhi) don’t. But even so she is persona non grata to them. And as the years have gone by, the Maran empire encompassing the Sun TV network has expanded bringing in so much money that the Marans have now invested in an airline (SpiceJet). As a political analyst said, “Dayanidhi Maran was never considered a politician. He was brought into the party by Karunanidhi because he was the son of his beloved nephew Murasoli Maran.”

Dayanidhi Maran has not endeared himself to the DMK cadre. “During the feud with the Karunanidhi clan no one felt sorry that Dayanidhi had been marginalized.” But money talks and that’s the reason the reunion happened. According to the Niraa Radia tapes, Dayanidhi (who was heard bad mouthing Azhagiri) is reported to have paid Rs 600 crore to Dayalu Ammal to get into the cabinet. A charge that Karunanidhi later pooh poohed saying, “How can anyone believe a grandson gave his grandmother money?”

But many believe that Dayanidhi Maran is in the wrong party. The Congress fits into his profile of a businessman-politician. “The Maran brothers are too big to be confined to Tamil Nadu,” says an analyst. " The difference between Sun and Kalaignar TV is: Sun will survive as a professional entity even if the Marans don’t survive politically whereas the same cannot be said of Kalaignar TV.” Considering that starting with AIADMK chief Jayalalitha, to CPI and CPIM leaders, there’s a clamour for Kalaignar TV’s licence to be revoked, its days might be numbered. May 13 will tell.

The Gold Standard

IIT Madras usually makes news because of excellence in academics, its festival (Sarang) or some innovation by a student or department. But this time it has made it to the press because of controversial reasons after its 1,500 employees including faculty were given gold coins (two grams for every years of service) as a “Golden Jubilee Souvenir”, though the golden jubilee was two years ago.

A section of the faculty wonder how the director, M S Ananth, played Santa (the coins cost Rs one crore) when IIT-M does not have enough funds to even pay salaries. An annoyed Ananth sent an email out saying, “Individual faculty have the choice of either accepting the souvenir, declining the same or accepting it and donating it to whatever cause they see fit.” He justified the largesse (paid for by IIT’s corpus fund) saying IIT Kharagpur and Bombay had similarly honoured their employees when they turned 50. To the other contention that a open tender was not floated to procure the gold coins, Ananth says, “All procedures were followed and nationalised banks were contacted for the supply of the souvenirs.”

But a faculty member says that “Corpus funds were created for specific purposes along with rules for inflow as well as outflow of funds. The corpus funds were generated from industrial consultancy and sponsored projects using infrastructure, human resources and facilities that have been created in IIT with HRD Ministry funds.” And that means that even if the Board approves, the funds cannot be used any which way. Incidentally, the corpus at IIT-M has been created from funds transferred as a loan to build the IIT Research Park and for executing the second phase of the flagship National Programme on Technology Enhanced Learning.


“We’ve named her Tanmaya,” says Udayanidhi Stalin, about the daughter his wife Krutika delivered recently. Udayanidhi, the producer of Red Giant Movies, who will turn actor with Oru Kal Oru Kannadi soon, says, “The name was selected by my son and her elder brother, Inba.” No gold ring for little Tanmaya for sure. Her grandfather Stalin had made the rule that only babies given Tamil names would get a gold ring!

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