Its election time. It may not even be nine months for the Lok Sabha polls. And given the clear indication by senior BJP leaders, the TN government may not also live for long. Is the DMK under MK.Stalin prepared to face simultaneous elections and prove, which probably would be its final acid test ?
Senior leader & Union Minister Pon.Radhakrishnan, point blank termed the TN government as ‘non-functional’. And BJP President Amit Shah was more scathing. During yesterday’s meeting in Chennai, Shah said “I regret for Tamil Nadu which is the most corrupt state in the country. We will bring corruption free government in the state at all levels including Assembly, district and taluk.”
Amit Shah’s words cannot be taken lightly and he is known to speak Modi’s mind. And the speech comes on a day, when the Income Tax wound up its 3 day long searches on Christy Foods and allied companies, wherein it is alleged they had been involved in tax evasion to the tune of 3000 crores
And the raids just a couple of days before Amit Shah’s visit to TN and his calling TN government the most corrupt in the country, carries a sound message to the ruling dispensation in TN. The clock is ticking.
At the present juncture, Congress, CPI, CPM, VCK, IUML, MDMK, MMK and some fringe parties appear to be with DMK and the combine looks like a winner. But tectonic shifts taking place. With Vijayakanth’s DMDK almost routed in the previous elections and its only star leader having serious health issues, it is unlikely that DMDK is going to emerge as a potent force.
The predominant opinion among DMK cadres is that its working president MK.Stalin’s performance as an opposition leader is way below the mark. Several cadres, this author interacted with, in private agree that, Stalin is not Kalaignar Karunanidhi and they do not expect him to be a Chanakya like Karunanidhi. At the same time, they are also disappointed that Stalin is not making the right noises at the right time to ensure confidence of the people.
A veteran DMK leader reminisced about Stalin’s elevation inside the party. “Our leader Karunanidhi knew, Stalin did not have it in him to bloom as a leader. Only to ensure his son’s safe elevation, he expelled Vaiko on a false charge. Karunanidhi is a leader who will do any compromise for his family, including the party. In spite of all the protection he gave to MK.Stalin, he has failed to live up to expectations.
Before becoming Chennai Mayor in the year 1996, there was no significant contribution by Stalin to the party.” said the veteran DMK leader.
Stalin was arrested during Emergency in 1976. But, several other DMK cadres too were arrested and a few of them lost their lives during the incarceration too. But no one was rewarded with party posts like Stalin.
In 1984, Stalin contested from Thousand Lights assembly constituency unsuccessfully. He got elected from the same seat in 1989 but lost in the 1991 election due to sympathy wave following Rajiv Gandhi assassination. In 1996, he won the election and was made the Mayor of Chennai. To his credit, it was during his tenure as Mayor, several vital bridges that helps free flow of traffic today were built.
Stalin was made Youth Wing secretary of the DMK in 1984, the post which he continued to hold for 27 years. With active backing of his father, there was no turning back for Stalin. During DMK conferences while DMK leaders would deliver fiery speeches, Stalin’s speech would at the most be lukewarm.
Stalin was never a great orator and even after 40 years in politics he has failed to develop his oratorical skills, which the DMK is known for. After all, DMK is a party which came to power on oration and rhetoric alone.
The veteran continued. “In the late eighties and early nineties, Vaiko was a very powerful orator and he was able to sway the cadres. His rousing speeches enthralled the cadres and Vaiko drew huge crowds. His secret visit to Sri Lanka and meeting with LTTE Chief Prabakaran catapulted Vaiko to astronomical heights. There were several occasions on which after Vaiko’s speech, cadres would start dispersing, much to the embarrassment of DMK Chief Karunanidhi.
A shrewd Karunanidhi, sensing the imminent threat, expelled Vaiko on a fictitious charge from DMK in 1993.
After Vaiko was expelled, there was absolutely no competition for MK.Stalin inside the party. DMK leaders who had leadership ambitions, went into a shell as they realised, Karunanidhi would go to any extent for the sake of his family. Stalin was the undisputed heir apparent in DMK”, said the senior DMK veteran.
History always repeats itself. Like several sibling rivalries for power, rivalry erupted between DMK’s first siblings Alagiri and Stalin. Sent to Madurai by Karunanidhi, in the late eighties, Alagiri continued to select candidates and decided candidates for the party posts for south Tamil Nadu in the nineties.
Alagiri’s clout kept on increasing in the party DMK’s General Secretary K.Anbalagan had to officially expel Alagiri from the party in 2014. But, Alagiri, known to be a patronising leader who goes all out for his supporters, continued to hold forte in DMK down south. Madurai Thirumangalam by-election was very crucial for DMK as its alliance stitched together in 2006 was in tatters. But the Madurai strongman proved himself and presented a record win to his father and party Chief Karunanidhi. Soon, Alagiri was appointed as South Zone Organising Secretary, a post exclusively to accommodate Alagiri.
“Ever since Alagiri was accorded importance in the party, MK.Stalin started sulking” said a senior DMK leader. “He was always jealous about the importance given to Alagiri by his father and he started seeing Alagiri as a threat to himself. He always was plotting against Alagiri and Alagiri too due to his errant behaviour, paved way for his exit” added the leader.
The 2014 parliamentary polls brought the party almost under the control of MK.Stalin, though its Chief Karunanidhi was active. Stalin made most of the selections and decided on the alliances. Alagiri was enraged with Stalin being given complete control of the affairs. He was infuriated as his supporters were not given any tickets for the polls.
As Alagiri started making public statements directly and indirectly targeting MK.Stalin’s leadership, MK.Stalin made the move. He was able to convince the DMK patriarch to expel Alagiri once and for all from the party. Alagiri was expelled in March 2014 and party cadres were advised not to have any truck with him. But the issue of expulsion of Alagiri from party post remains contentious till date, as he was expelled by a mere announcement and no General Body meeting or Executive Council meeting was convinced to endorse the announcement. If Alagiri chooses to challenge the ‘so called expulsion’ he has a good case to fight.
Even during the 2016 assembly polls, it was Stalin all the way. Tickets were distributed only through his close coterie of people, which had developed strong by this time. But this was not what irked Alagiri. It was Stalin’s careful moves to install his son Udhayanidhi Stalin in key positions which had irked Alagiri.
DMK’s finances are handled by two important Trusts. One is DMK Trust and the other is Murasoli Trust. There is also another important committee, which is “Assets Protection Committee”. It is this committee which manages DMK’s assets all over Tamil Nadu worth over thousands of crores. Stalin had discreetly made Udhayanidhi Stalin a member of this Committee and also in the two trusts. Udhayanidhi was also made Managing Director of the party’s daily organ Murasoli.
After Karunanidhi became inactive, Stalin’s writ runs large across the party and any consultation process is a formality. Following total control, a coterie of his family members and yes-men took charge and any word to Stalin would only go through them.
The coterie consists of his wife Durga Stalin, son Udhayanidhi Stalin, son-in-law Sabareesan, Mahesh Poyyamozhi, Anna Nagar Karthick, OMG Sunil and of course the fund manager and perennial party-hopper EV Velu.
This coterie had taken total control of the DMK and their words are gospel for Stalin, say party insiders. Any DMK leader, whatever his stature and seniority be in the party, chooses to rub any member of this coterie on the wrong side, their future is finished, say sources.
Most of the DMK leaders and cadres have resigned to the fact that it’s a family party and Stalin is its sole heir. But their only grievance is Stalin is not able to enthuse its cadres and act as an effective opposition leader, even in the absence of Jayalalitha.
Compared to Stalin, both Edappadi Palanisamy and O.Panneerselvam are novices in politics. Their experience is far less. But, they are able to run a quite unpopular minority government without much hindrance. Stalin is not able to make them squirm, or even uncomfortable.
A senior journalist, who doesn’t wish to be named said, “After observing MK Stalin for more than a year, it appears that MK Stalin lacks leadership qualities and killing instinct. If Karunanidhi was active, he wouldn’t have allowed this illegal government to continue, if he was not successful atleast he would have made things difficult for the current dispensation with his political moves
MK Stalin is not Karunanidhi and he can never be a Karunanidhi just because he is his son. MK Stalin may have been risen within the party’s rank and file, but more than hard work the ‘acting president’ post was given to him on a platter.
He is yet to prove that he can win elections. If 2014 & 2106 election defeat was not enough for the DMK, RK election was a personal blow for MK Stalin. The defeat was so humiliating that the DMK was unable to secure a deposit. DMK blamed it on money power, but that was just a lame excuse.
Stalin has missed way too many opportunities in the current political scenario and the more MK Stalin fails it is going to be difficult for him in 2019
Stalin is unable to capitalise on the leadership vacuum in the state, he doesn’t come across as a strong leader who can take on the AIADMK. It has become very easy for EPS and OPS to handle Stalin and EPS has proved it on the floor of the TN Assembly time and again.
While TTV Dinakaran is stealing the show, MK Stalin is lagging behind. The DMK under him is not aggressive enough to take on the weak AIADMK.
MK Stalin has to rework on his approach and strategy, otherwise his dream of becoming the chief minister is just going to be a dream forever”.
The senior journalist is not exaggerating. Stalin is making all the wrong moves. With 89 MLAs, he is not able to make a lasting impact in Assembly or confront and corner the government. The Salem 8 lane project, which Edappadi Palanisamy, is too keen to thrust upon on a war footing, is a god-sent opportunity for Stalin to corner the government. Any shrewd opposition leader would have taken on a Padayatra to visit the affected farmers and listen to their grievances. But, Stalin said on the floor of the house, that he is not opposed to the project but is only insisting on ‘consent of the people’. In spite of several materials appearing continuously in various media, stressing that the proposed 8 lane project is an unwanted one, Stalin almost toes the Edappadi government’s line. But, Pattali Makkal Katchi a caste-led outfit of north Tamil Nadu, has seen a golden opportunity to nail the ADMK government in the 8 lane project and is continuing to corner the government in every possible manner. Its leader senior Ramadoss, confronts the government against this project with various inputs and statistics. His son Anbumani is about to commence a Padyatra among the affected villages.
Stalin is not even able to capitalise on the disgruntle among the ADMK MLAs, or exploit the weak minority position of the ADMK government. His reaction to many day-to-day political events are lackadaisical and delayed. Be it TTV Dinakaran or the PMK. They are very quick to grasp key issues and continue to target the government with whatever they can get.
Even in dealing with alliance partners, Stalin doesn’t have the diplomatic skills and patience to handle the partners with various demands. While the Congress is a trusted alliance partner which had never let down the DMK even during crisis, Stalin is doing everything to irritate the grand old party. His endorsing Mamta Banerjee’s third front move, can at the most be called amateurish. MK.Stalin left for London today as a personal visit. Enroute to London, Stalin should have sought an appointment with Congress President Rahul Gandhi and extended a personal visit to warm up the relationship. But, instead Stalin left for London from Chennai and deputed his MP Tiruchy Shiva to extend the invitation, which may not be taken kindly by the Congress.
What Stalin fails to perceive is, if Congress decides to ditch DMK and take TTV Dinakaran on board with PMK and left parties, the combine is capable of giving Stalin a run for his money.
The way, Stalin continues to sideline Kanimozhi, who has a good rapport with most of the leaders in the national capital is also puzzling. Kanimozhi may not be a contender for CM post and leaving her to handle the affairs in Delhi, would be a safe course for any shrewd politician. But, for Stalin except his immediate family members no one else has the knack or knowledge to handle important issues.
A sizeable chunk of women voters remain undecided whom to vote in the absence of Jayalalitha. Promoting Kanimozhi and allowing her to tour the state and meet women voters would have made the trick and at least a percentage of women voters could have been turned around. But sources say, Kanimozhi was not even allowed to visit Thoothukudi, after the May 22nd firing incident.
Stalin appears to be living in a dreamland where he is Chief Minister and his son is his deputy.
A senior IPS officer, who has been observing the DMK for over two decades, was scathing in his comments.
“Politics without principles’ is one among the seven deadly sins enumerated by Gandhiji. M.K. Stalin is doing politics without any principle.
When Tr.M.Karunanidhi has been immobilized, Stalin through his weight, created and captured the post of Executive President with much furore. But he has proved once again that leaders are not created but they evolve. He not only failed to fulfil the expectations of the cadres but also failed to imbibe confidence among public.
He became a laughing stock among senior leaders of the party when he staged a mock assembly at Arivalayam with his party colleagues. He had utterly failed to utilise the opportunity to dethrone the present government when there was a split and gave room for the cadres to compare him with his father Karunanidhi.
There is a wild talk among highly shrewd DMK cadre that he is getting a lion’s share from all the schemes being introduced and implemented by the present government such as Sterilite, green corridor, Suez water supplies, Salem Airport expansion etc, But Stalin continues to dream that the cadres are with him.
He should have learnt politics from his father, a leader unmatched to any. Unfortunately his son-in- law and a team of Media persons are guiding him. When whole State is burning, he has gone London along with his family.
Does he have any justification for holding the post of Executive President of the party which Annadurai founded? This is the question burning in the minds of leaders and cadres of DMK.
Stalin is not only spoiling the party but spoiling Tamil Nadu by being a passive supporter to all the undemocratic happenings in the State. People of the State seemed to be helpless without an opposition party to question autocratic monsters.
History is not going to be kind to Stalin. Stalin will be reduced to foot notes of history which will say, MK.Stalin replacing Karunanidhi is a classic case of “Peacock replacing Ostrich” lamented the senior cop.
The famous Italian philosopher Machiavelli said, “Its not title that honour men, but men that honour titles”.
If Stalin fails to pull up his socks and act like a true leader, he will definitely be reduced to the footnotes of history.