The Karunanidhi family tightened its grip on the DMK after Udayanidhi Stalin, the actor son of DMK president M.K. Stalin was appointed the party’s youth wing secretary.
The youth wing post is a convenient launch pad for a bigger role in the party as Stalin had held the post from 1982 to 2015 before climbing up the ladder to become treasurer before taking over as party president after the demise of his father Karunanidhi in August 2018.
Along with Udayanidhi the following members of the Karunanidhi family hold top posts – Stalin – president, MLS and LoP, his sister Kanimozhi – women’s wing secretary and MP, nephew Dayanidhi Maran also an MP.
Udayanidhi (41), film distributor and producer before turning actor, has already been making his political moves first becoming the MD of the Murasoli Trust that publishes the party organ Murasoli. During the recent Lo Sabha elections he was the lone star campaigner for the DMK other than his dad. DMK’s regula platform speakers were paid and asked to go on a holiday.
Udayanidhi’s cinema fame came in handy as he attracted crowds and his informal speech making style peppered with jokes went down well with party workers. After the DMK won 37 out of the 38 LS seats there was an orchestrated campaign to make Udayanidhi the much deserved political recognition for his hard work. On cue the incumbent secretary of the youth wing Swaminathan also put in his papers clearing the way for Udayanidhi.
Though many expected the announcement to come on June 3, Karunanidhi’s birth anniversary, the party delayed the announcement to July 4 since it was considered a very auspicious day proving yet again the rationalism is only for preaching to others and not for practicing at home.
Karunanidhi had perfected the practice of making the DMK a family firm when three of his children – Stalin, the now estranged Alagiri and Kanimozhi held party posts and were MLA and MPs and grand nephew Dayanidhi Maran became a first time MP and Minister in 2004. The same formula was applied by the DMK’s various district secretaries and other second line leaders as they made their children MPs or MLAs.
For example the DMK’s parliamentary party leader T.R. Baalu’s son TRB. Raja is an MLA. Former Minister and Villupuram district secretary Dr. Ponmudi has made his son Gowtham Sigamani a Lok Sabha MP this time. The DMK treasurer Durai Murugan’s son Kadhir Anand will be the party’s candidate from Vellore Lok Sabha seat, whose election was cancelled but will now be held on Aug 5.
“Once Karunanidhi made his family occupy important posts, he found it difficult to say no to his deputies from bringing their children into party politics and giving them key posts. The patriarch ensured that politics remained a family business in the DMK. He was not alone as it applies to all regional parties in the country,” pointed out political analyst Ravindran Duraiswamy.
He is right. On the same day of Udayanidhi’s promotion came the news from neighbouring Karnataka where Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy’s son Nikhil Kumaraswamy, also an actor, was made the youth wing secretary of the Janata Dal (Secular).