When, senior journalist from The Hindu group RK Radhakrishnan, gave a hint on 3rd August in twitter about a fence hopper one party to other people could not decipher it. Though the tweet did not give out any specifics, it set the tongues wagging in political circles. DMK should have taken the hint, but failed to do so.
What's the big political development tomorrow?
Who's moving from a 'no point party' to a 'full points' party?
In this town, the speculations don't stop.
— RadhakrishnanRK (@RKRadhakrishn) August 3, 2020
Sources in DMK say, after the news about their MLA of Thousand Lights constituency was about to switch camp reached them, efforts were made to pacify Selvam which came to a nought. By the time they tried to contact Selvam, he was in Delhi to meet BJP National President JP Nadda.
The operation to poach Selvam was done at the highest level in BJP and none of the leaders in Tamil Nadu were aware about these plans. A source in RSS, on condition of anonymity had this to say. “The top BJP leadership doesn’t trust any of the BJP leaders in Tamil Nadu. The high command is aware that no BJP leader in the state is acting on the interests of the party, but their self interest. That is why, they kept the ‘Operation Selvam’ a secret till the last moment. Except BJP TN President Murugan, none were aware about the plan.” To a question whether poaching Selvam would advance the party’s interests in the state, the source said, “It is not a question of whether Selvam joining BJP will help the party or not. The plan is to demoralise the DMK, which seems to be riding on a winning wave. Politics is perception. We want to convey a strong message to the DMK that everyone in DMK is vulnerable.
What we did is pure politics. We are fishing in troubled waters using the confusion prevailing inside the DMK”.
The RSS source was right. Though there is a general feeling among political analysts that the prospects of DMK in the impending assembly polls are bright, all is not well within the party.
The transformation of DMK Presidentship after the demise of veteran Karunanidhi was a smooth affair. There was absolutely no differences in the party that Stalin should lead as the party. Karunanidhi had groomed Stalin to reach this place for several decades.
Stalin’s rise in the party was not overnight. Though it was a façade, Karunanidhi made it appear as if Stalin grew from the ranks without the help of a halo around his head that he is “Thalaivar’s son”. Stalin was first admitted in DMK General Council in the year 1976 and later formed the DMK Youth Wing in the year 1980. Stalin was in the forefront of all of DMK’s agitations. He developed DMK Youth Wing as a potent force.
Karunanidhi made it certain that Stalin was groomed gradually. Stalin first became Mayor of Chennai Corporation and then was handed over the portfolio of Local Administration and later made Deputy Chief Minister. Stalin had to wait for more than four decades to take over the leadership of DMK, that too only after the demise of Kalaingar Karunanidhi. Now, there is absolutely no one to question Stalin’s leadership inside the DMK, including veterans. Stalin’s rebellious sibling was tactically sidelined even when Karunanidhi was alive. Nopw the leadership of Stalin is unchallenged.
But, as is the case in large political families, it is the airdropping of the younger scion Udhayanidhi Stalin that is creating troubles.
Udhayanidhi Stalin came to limelight when he started a film production company in the name of “Red Giant Pictures” during the DMK regime in 2006. Following film production he cast himself a hero in Tamil movie “Oru Kal Oru Kannadi” which was a hit. But his subsequent movies failed to tingle the box office.
Till the DMK patriarch was alive, the question of elevation of Udhayanidhi did not arise. However, after his demise there was no one to question MK.Stalin and Udhayanidhi was thrust on the party slowly but meticulously. DMK district secretaries were instructed to conduct party functions with Udhayanidhi as a chief guest. Posters and banners were erected with Udhayanidhi prominently smiling. At one point of time, sycophancy reached its peak when a poster depicted Udhayanidhi as “Third Kalaingar”. This was followed by Udhayanidhi being made the Managing Director of Murasoli. He was given prominence in the Platinum Jubilee celebrations of DMK mouthpiece Murasoli.
After Stalin was made the Treasurer of DMK, former DMK Minister Vellakovil Swaminathan was made Secretary of DMK Youth Wing. But, his tenure was short lived. Udhayanidhi Stalin, whose elevation was on the cards, was straightaway appointed as Secretary of DMK Youth Wing, much to the chagrin of DMK seniors.
Before founding the DMK Youth Wing, Stalin was only a General Council member in DMK.
After Udhayanidhi was made Youth Wing Secretary, the message to party cadres was clear. Those who sing paeans alone will gain importance in the party.
DMK suffered humiliating defeat in the two by-elections held for Vikkiravandi and Nanguneri constituencies. One of the reasons attributed for the loss in Vikkiravandi was wrong selection of candidate by the DMK. DMK chose N.Pugalenthi, based on the recommendation of DMK heavyweight Ponmudi’s son Gowtham Sigamani. The main qualification for the said Pugalenthi is that he started ‘Udhayanidhi Fan Club’ in his area. The DMK lost the by election miserably in spite of the humongous success in 2019 Lok Sabha polls. Most of the DMK cadres attributed DMK’s defeat to wrong candidate selection. Pugalenthi was not even a resident of Vikkiravandi constituency.
Fresh trouble started in DMK after the demise of its MLA J.Anbalagan. Anbalagan succumbed to Covid infection on 10 June 2020. DMK’s District Secretary post commands huge clout and it is the dream of every cadre to be district secretary one day. Following the demise of Anbalagan several names for the post were doing the rounds. Ramalingam, Elumalai, Anbudurai, Kamaraj, Madan Mohan, Ganapathy, Velu, Paramasivam, Karunanidhi, Rajan, Nandanam Madhi were all contenders. They had years of party work behind them. Even Stalin loyalist and advocate Jinnah was in the race. However, all of a sudden Chitrarasu, was named as the successor for J.Anbalagan.
The main reason for the elevation of Chitrarasu say party sources, is that Chitrarasu is a strong loyalist of both Mahesh Poyyamozhi and Udhayanidhi Stalin. He is termed as very junior in the party hierarchy. Several heavy weights who were expecting elevation were disappointed and the disgruntle was palpable. They consider the elevation of Chitrarasu as an insult.
A senior office bearer in DMK from Chennai told this author, “Chitrarasu is a novice. He used to open car doors for me till now. How can I work with him now ? Should I open his car door ?
A district secretary post in DMK is considered very prestigious. I would equate the post with that of a District Collector. Of late, the stature of the post has been diluted.
In November 2019, Chitrarasu filed nomination in the party for Udhayanidhi Stalin to contest Chennai Mayor’s post. Could this be a qualification for appointing him as district secretary ?
While appointing a district secretary in DMK, various factors are taken into consideration. A person’s money power, muscle power, his clout in the locality, his oratory skills, his organizing skills, caste, experience, political knowledge, etc. Chitrarasu excels in none of the category. How will he command respect among the cadres ? This appointment may not affect electoral work, as everyone will work towards victory. But, in the long run, Chitrarasu’s appointment as District Secretary will cost the party in Chennai dearly”, said the office bearer.
A source close to fence hopper Ku.Ka Selvam, says, Selvam could have been retained in DMK, if the issue was handled deftly. Selvam, in the earlier internal elections wanted to contest against J.Anbalagan. It was party president MK.Stalin who pacified Ku.Ka.Selvam and dissuaded him from contesting against J.Anbalagan and assured him of elevation in future.
After the demise of J.Anbalagan, Selvam was certain that he would be anointed. Much to his chagrin, he was not even consulted before Chitrarasu was made the district secretary.
The source added, “Selvam wanted to express his displeasure to Udhayanidhi Stalin, as he was aware where the power lies. Selvam was not given an audience by Udhayanidhi, which made him do the unthinkable. Selvam is very well aware that he will be used and thrown by BJP after a week. But the insult heaped on him by Udhayanidhi was unbearable for him. After his attempts to meet Udhayanidhi failed, a heartbroken Selvam said, “He (Udhayanidhi) is just a kid. He won’t even meet me ? Why should I remain in DMK ? To face more insults” were his words said the source.
Selvam voiced his grievances openly in an interview to The News Minute.
This version gains strength from the reaction of Udhayanidhi Stalin to a question about Ku. Ka Selvam. On a question from a scribe regarding Selvam, Udhayanidhi replied, “Selvam has been cheated by BJP by offering him a chocolate like a kid” This reaction is not only childish, but also undermines the seriousness of the problem.
Another theory doing the rounds is that the political strategist hired by ADMK, Sunil, who was earlier with DMK is identifying the vulnerabilities in the DMK which is being used by both ADMK and BJP. A source close to Sunil totally denied this. He added, “Sunil’s brief is clear. He has to improve the electoral prospects of ADMK and strengthen ADMK’s IT wing. Poaching opposition party members is certainly not his brief. Sunil is not at all involved in such activities”, he added.
The switching of loyalties by Ku.Ka.Selvam, a sitting DMK MLA to BJP has exposed the chinks in the armour of DMK. The DMK, which takes pride in its organizational structure and discipline now stands exposed. The poaching of Selvam by BJP has proved that DMK too is vulnerable. BJP has let loose all its leaders to explore the possibility of poaching from all parties in Tamil Nadu. According to a senior officer in intelligence, BJP is keen to poach leaders from Vanniyar community.
The dominance of heir apparent Udhayanidhi and his close aide Anbil Magesh is known across the party. But there is no open revolt so far only due to the reason that the duo has the blessings of party leader MK.Stalin. The prominence given to Udhayanidhi in all party affairs, party organ Murasoli and advertisements is not a secret. MK.Stalin is very well aware of these developments and it is true that both Udhayanidhi and Mahesh Poyyamozhi have his blessings.
Mahesh Poyyamozhi, who is the center of controversy denied all the allegations. “The charges being thrown against me are not fair at all. As a faithful cadre of the party I execute my duties. Our leader MK. Stalin is not a person who can be easily influenced by individuals. Further there is a party structure. Any decision by DMK is a collective decision and not by any individual.
After I was appointed as District Secretary for Trichy South, I have restricted my party activities to my district. True I have to attend to party’s youth wing work too. But that doesn’t mean I am interfering in the affairs of other districts.
In fact, several cadres voice their grievances to me about minor issues inside the party. When they approach me, I always advise them to approach Party’s headquarters Secretary KN.Nehru. He is in-charge for the overall party affairs of the state. I have chided those who come up with complaints like this to me. I am a disciplined cadre of the DMK and I respect the party hierarchy.
If there is an iota of truth in what you say – I engineered the appointment of Chitrarasu as District Secretary – our party leader Stalin would not have taken this kindly.
Further Chennai is a district is filled with heavy weights. Being a junior member in the party I cannot influence decisions pertaining to Chennai. I absolutely have no role to play in the appointment of Chitrarasu as District Secretary” said Anbil Mahesh Poyyamozhi.
Though Anbil Mahesh vehemently denies all the allegations, problem persists inside the DMK. More than a dozen DMK leaders, that this author spoke for this piece, unanimously voiced grievances against both Anbil Mahesh and Udhayanidhi.
Stalin’s responsibilities have grown as Party President. He is not just a Youth Wing Secretary now. He is heading a party which has significant attachment to Tamil Nadu’s history. The elections he is about to face in 2021 is not an electoral fight but an ideological one. He is facing an enemy who would use almost all dirty tricks in the book. He is not only fighting BJP but all its wings in Judiciary, Enforcement Directorate, Income Tax, CBI, Directorate of Revenue Intelligence and the Intelligence Bureau.
While ADMK would like to defeat DMK in 2021, BJP wants to dismantle the DMK brick by brick. Destroying DMK is top in the wish list of the RSS and sangh parivar.
Stalin should understand this and gear up for the elections. He should understand that it is the BJP which has little stakes in the state that has sounded the poll bugle ahead of all others. Their electoral machine is unmatched which can be seen through the results across the country. If Stalin thinks, one Prasanth Kishore can win him elections with a magic wand, he would be in for a surprise. If elections can be won by strategists, strategists won’t be doing election work, but contesting in polls.
I would like to end this piece with a Thirukkural couplet.
வினைவலியும் தன்வலியும் மாற்றான் வலியும்
துணைவலியும் தூக்கிச் செயல்.
கலைஞர் கருணாநிதி உரை
செயலின் வலிமை, தனது வலிமை, பகைவரின் வலிமை, இருசாராருக்கும் துணையாக இருப்போரின் வலிமை ஆகியவற்றை ஆராய்ந்தறிந்தே அந்தச் செயலில் ஈடுபட வேண்டும்.