|Karunanidhi and (right) Stalin
Chennai, Jan. 6: DMK chief M. Karunanidhi today said he would back his younger son Stalin to succeed him and even questioned what was “wrong with that”, putting to rest the succession war in his party and family.
Speaking to reporters after a meeting of the party’s district secretaries, who would be the ones calling the shots in case of a leadership tussle, Karunanidhi pointed out that he had never declared before that Stalin would succeed him.
“Even if I did, what is wrong with that?” he said. “Why cannot Stalin become the president?”
The DMK patriarch then went on to explain that if anyone wanted to contest the party president’s post, his name had to be proposed at the general council. “If I get such an opportunity, I would propose Stalin’s name. In fact, party general secretary K. Anabazhagan has already proposed his name for that post once,” he said.
The DMK’s general council is expected to meet later this year after party elections are over.
Karunanidhi’s assertion effectively squashes his elder son Alagiri’s plans to stymie Stalin’s ascension.
The 88-year-old former Tamil Nadu chief minister even held out a veiled challenge to Alagiri, saying anyone interested in contesting the president’s post was free to file his nomination at the general council.
Alagiri had said the DMK was not a mutt where the incumbent names his successor. But now that his father himself has backed Stalin, who anyway enjoys the support of over 90 per cent of the DMK’s functionaries, even those hovering around the 61-year-old Union minister would have second thoughts.
Karunanidhi’s comments came three days after he had triggered fervent speculation on the long simmering question of succession when he told a group of Dalits: “… After me, do not forget Stalin, who is here.”
If that was a cryptic comment from someone adept at dropping hints — his way of dealing with his politically ambitious children — Karunanidhi today cleared the air by stating the exact procedure by which Stalin, 59, would become party president.
A DMK MP summed it up. “Will anyone have the courage to throw his name into the ring after our leader has proposed Stalin’s name? We are happy that our leader’s words have ushered in clarity about Stalin’s future role. It is a reward for Stalin’s hard work over four decades,” the MP said.
Stalin has spent more than four decades in the party and has the support of most of the 32 district secretaries.
Within the first family, too, there is widening support for Stalin. His stepsister, Rajya Sabha member Kanimozhi, has said she would be happy if Stalin takes over from her father.