The Telegraph
Sunday , January 5 , 2014
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Good old politics is alive and ‘kicking’

Chennai, Jan. 4: Incurable political junkies anxious about the next fix of good old politicking need not despair just because the Aam Aadmi Party and kindred spirits have sworn to sterilise public life.

Hope springs eternal from Chennai, where a battle worthy of the Mahabharata and Cain and Abel is unfolding in the House of the DMK.

Brothers MK — Alagiri and his younger sibling Stalin, the two sons of M. Karunanidhi — are now locked in a feud so familiar in dynasties down the ages. The squabble has broken out because of that other familiar trigger: the approaching Lok Sabha polls.

The “reassuring” old-style politicking stands out against what has been happening in next-door Bangalore — a steady stream of professionals has been hotfooting it to the AAP that has vowed to prove wrong the cliché “politics is the last refuge of the scoundrel”.

In contrast, the DMK has dissolved its Madurai district unit, controlled by Karunanidhi’s elder son Alagiri, a former Union minister known for speaking the least in Delhi and said to be harbouring some affection for the Congress that his father, brother and step-sister Kanimozhi do not share.

The latest declaration of hostilities was made through posters — an appropriate choice, considering the indisputable role of cinema in Tamil Nadu politics.

Alagiri’s supporters put up posters and banners in the temple town claiming that the party’s general council would meet on January 30, Alagiri’s 64th birthday. The problem was the council had just met last month.

Some posters proclaimed Alagiri as the future chief minister of Tamil Nadu, although DMK’s rival Jayalalithaa is firmly entrenched in the saddle now. All of which were seen as open challenge, with the alleged blessings of Alagiri, to the party leadership.

So all the unit’s officials, who flaunted their allegiance to Alagiri, have been sent packing. An interim set-up, loaded with supporters of party treasurer and heir-apparent Stalin, has been appointed to run the party affairs in the district.

Party seniors expect Alagiri to respond by quitting his party post, a resignation that would be readily accepted by the high command.

Although Alagiri is the elder brother, it is Stalin, 60, who has been more active in politics since he was arrested in 1976 during the Emergency.

Alagiri and Stalin were born to Karunanidhi and his second wife Dayalu, whom the party patriarch married after the death of his first wife Padmavathi. They have two siblings, Tamilarasu and Selvi, who are not in active politics.

The other active politician in the family is Kanimozhi, the daughter of Karunanidhi and his third wife Rajathi. Kanimozhi, who turns 46 on Sunday, has chosen to back Stalin in the leadership struggle between the brothers.

Ever since the DMK walked out of the UPA, forcing Alagiri to quit as Union minister, he has been keeping a low profile.

He skipped the general council meeting on December 15, after which party president Karunanidhi announced there would be no alliance with the Congress for the Lok Sabha elections. Alagiri had been opposed to snapping ties with the Congress but was overruled by his father, who toed the line advocated by his younger son.

Clippings of Alagiri’s interview to a Tamil news channel (to be aired on Sunday) — in which he says he would not accept anyone else as his leader even if that person is chosen by Karunanidhi — have further annoyed the party leadership.

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