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Dad cajoles Stalin to stay on

- Son quits party posts after DMK debacle; brother cries ‘drama’

Chennai, May 18: The tremors of the Amma landslide rattled the DMK today with M.K. Stalin offering to quit all party posts, but father M. Karunanidhi convinced him that the job of strengthening the party had just begun.

Taking moral responsibility for the DMK rout, Stalin dropped by Karunanidhi’s Gopalapuram home this morning and handed him a resignation letter. The DMK patriarch, however, told his son there was no question of his quitting and that the DMK had bounced back from worse defeats.

As news was selectively leaked around noon, hundreds of loyalists assembled in front of Karunanidhi’s house in central Chennai urging Stalin to change his mind. Senior officials too pleaded with him not to quit.

After a couple of hours, Stalin emerged from the house and assured his loyalists that he would take back his resignation.

Stalin, 62, holds the posts of treasurer, youth wing secretary and DMK’s legislative party leader. Karunanidhi has already declared him the heir apparent, leading to a falling-out with elder son M.K. Alagiri who was expelled in January.

“Stalin was earnest about quitting but our leader (Karunanidhi) convinced him that his job of strengthening the party had just begun,” said Durai Murugan, a party senior.

The DMK had contested 35 of the 39 Lok Sabha seats but drew a blank, with three candidates losing their deposits. The debacle drew widespread criticism from some party leaders since Stalin had handpicked the contestants.

His move to field tainted leaders such as A. Raja, T.R. Baalu and Dayanidhi Maran sent the message that the DMK had not learnt its lesson from the drubbing in the 2011 Assembly elections. Alagiri pointed out that businessmen with no connection to the party had been given tickets.

In the last three Lok Sabha elections, the DMK had emerged the largest party. This defeat is its worst since 1991.

DMK insiders said the resignation was a weak attempt to deflect the blame from Stalin and shield him from Alagiri’s attacks.

Alagiri was quick to dub the resignation episode a “drama”. “The responsibility for the DMK’s defeat in the Lok Sabha election rests entirely with Stalin. Nothing short of his resignation would save the party from the present predicament.

“If the party chief allows himself to be blackmailed by Stalin, the future of the DMK itself would be in danger and the party would be wiped out in the 2016 Assembly elections,” he warned.