DMK is not mutt but will Alagiri split party like Annadurai?

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Karuna Alagiri Stalin
Chennai, Jan 4: Will MK Alagiri split the DMK like Annadurai over the issue of succession? Annadurai formed DMK in 1949 after breaking Dravid Kazhagam as its chief Periyar (EV Ramasami Naicker) nominated his young bride to succeed him.

Just as M Karunandhi and his party were recovering from the 2G scam fallout, fissures have again come to the fore in DMK. Karunanidhi's elder son and Union Minister Alagiri today chided his father's remark by saying that DMK is not a "mutt" to appoint successor.

"DMK is not a mutt," was Alagiri's response to the reporters at Chennai airport when they approached to seek his reaction to Karunanidhi's statement that younger son MK Stalin would succeed him. Alagiri reminded his father that he (Karuna) himself had said that "DMK is not a Sankara Mutt".

Addressing party workers yesterday, Karunanidhi said, "for the question who after me, the answer is Stalin who is sitting amongst you and you should not forget it." Though the DMK chief had often hinted that Stalin is his political heir-apparent, yesterday's statement was the clear indication of putting the future of the party in Stalin's hand.

Stalin's preeminence became very clear when he was elevated as Deputy Chief Minister in 2009. Though Stalin is senior in politics as he entered the arena before Alagiri, the 61-year-old strongman from Madurai has maintained that he would not accept anyone else other than his father as leader.

About two months ago, Alagiri openly let out his unhappiness over selection of party functionaries in his home turf, particularly in the youth wing headed by Stalin. Alagiri had said his recommendations were neglected by the party leadership, an indirect attack on Stalin.

But what are the options before Karunanidhi, who is already 88-years-old, other than anointing 59-year-old Stalin? His daughter Kanimozhi could have taken on J Jayalalithaa but she has been politically wounded by the 2G scam and credibility bruised. She is also seen as soft and lacking in grassroot work. Karunanidhi also did not develop a second line leadership. But more importantly, Stalin has taken on Jayalalithaa in street politics, which has been an anathema to Alagiri.

Alagiri's credibility is also low due to his son's legal troubles and scams. He has also not built up a state-wide support base and seen as regional leader or say Madurai king. In the end, the Madurai king may settle for few concessions and stay in the party, also accept Stalin as leader.

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