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DMK scion finds his place under the sun

Chennai, May 14: He is no Prince Charming. But M.K. Stalin, with his newly-acquired mantle of minister, is on way to becoming king.

The son of DMK president and Tamil Nadu chief minister M. Karunanidhi has even central ministers from his party falling at his feet. Yesterday, communications and information technology minister Dayanidhi Maran sought Stalin’s blessings at the secretariat.

Sitting on the local administration minister’s chair, the Karunanidhi scion seems to have finally emerged out of his father’s shadows and found his place under the sun.

Although Stalin was re-elected to the Assembly this year by a smaller margin ' a little over 2,000 ' than last time from Chennai’s Thousand Lights constituency, the political profile of the DMK’s heir-apparent has brightened considerably.

On the list of names that Karunanidhi submitted to governor S.S. Barnala for appointment to his new council of ministers, Stalin comes fourth ' after Kalaignar, as the DMK chief is popularly known, party general secretary K. Anbazhagan and treasurer Arcot N. Veerasamy.

The 53-year-old Stalin, who has steered the DMK’s youth wing since its formal launch in March 1980 in Madurai, had his political baptism when he was arrested and jailed during Emergency in 1975-76.

Since then, it has been an uphill task for the history graduate. Being his father’s son seemed to be a towering hurdle with constant criticisms that he was a beneficiary of “family rule” coming Stalin’s way. However, he made it to the deputy general secretary’s post three years ago.

Stalin, who was first elected to the Tamil Nadu Assembly in 1989 from Thousand Lights, also had to battle a simmering rivalry with Vaiko, who nursed ambitions of becoming chief minister. But with the MDMK chief parting ways with Karunanidhi, the succession issue has been virtually resolved.

Besides, Stalin has the blessings of Anbazhagan, who has proclaimed him the ideal “GeNext leader”.

The DMK scion cut his teeth in the state’s administration when he became the first Chennai mayor to be directly elected under the Centre’s Nagarpalika Act in 1996.

It was during his tenure in the Chennai corporation that Stalin ordered the construction of a record 10 flyovers in the city. This has been the most productive phase in his public life so far.

Stalin became mayor again in October 2001 but soon after, the Jayalalithaa regime enacted a law barring the heads of all local bodies from holding two elected posts simultaneously. The DMK leader stepped down, preferring to retain his MLA’s post.

At Fort St George, Tamil Nadu’s seat of power, Stalin is in charge of all the urban and rural local bodies in the state. Raising his comfort level will be the several new faces in the DMK ministry ' most of them are his loyalists from the party’s the youth wing.

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