The dilemma of being Muthuvelar Karunanidhi and loving himself more than anything else
news Wednesday, January 21, 2015 - 05:30
By K.P. SunilÂ January, 15, 2015 | 2.50 PM IST The leadership tussle in the DMK party, one of the oldest regional parties in the country, has been satisfactorily resolved. There is no likelihood of the party splitting or splintering on this issue. At least not yet. The 93-year-old party supremo, Muthuvelar Karunanidhi will be succeeded as party President by none other than himself! What is more, when Tamilnadu goes to polls in 2016, it will project Karunanidhi, who will by then be close to 95 as the Chief Ministerial candidate. And by the time he completes his term in office, he would go down in history as the first person to head a state at 100!!Â Similarly, the post of party General Secretary, hitherto held by the 95-year-old K Anbazhagan will go to Anbazhagan himself! Anbazhagan will hold the Finance portfolio in Karunanidhiâ€™s 2016 cabinet and will enter the Guinness Book for being the oldest Finance Minister in the world! How lucky we, the people of Tamilnadu are. As we prepare to face the new challenges posed by a world that is changing every minute, we shall be the only people to be steered and guided by two â€ścenturionsâ€ť with close to 200 years of combined political experience propelling them... And in the end, what a simple solution to the sibling war that was threatening to tear the DMK asunder... A solution that was staring everyone in the face but was missed as everyone kept looking for successors to Karunanidhi within his own family! The DMK party in Tamilnadu, has over the last five decades, weathered many a storm. A split in the party triggered by the exit of M G Ramachandran @ MGR in 1972 and the consequent loss of power, another split in 1992 when Vaiyapuri Gopalasamy @ Vaiko quit, were all managed by Karunanidhi with varying degrees of success as he kept the DMKâ€™s ship afloat. But one thing the Machiavellian found difficult to quell was the rebellion he faced from within his own family. The reason for this, probably, was because these problems were his own creation. In his keenness to ensure that there were no challenges to his leadership, ever, he blew life into too many paper tigers in his family. The fact that he was thrice married, and he had issues through each of his wives has only compounded his problems by increasing the number of felines in the arena. And today, it is these paper tigers that are baring their claws and growling at each other, giving him sleepless nights. Let us look at the facts. As early as 1977, Karunanidhi had dropped hints that he would be succeeded in politics by his son M K Stalin. Stalin had all the necessary qualifications to be a politician. He had been named after the Russian dictator Iosif Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili Stalin, who, ironically, died four days after M K Stalin was born. He was thorough and meticulous as a student, never loathe to spend an additional year or two in any class till he had got the essentials right. As a result, several batches of old students of Madras Christian College School still legitimately claim with pride that they belonged to Stalinâ€™s batch. And, above all, after Karunanidhiâ€™s government was dismissed by Indira Gandhi in 1976 during the Emergency, the 23-year-old Stalin had been jailed for some months after being accused of indulging in eve teasing and unruly behaviour in public places. This enabled him to later don the mantle of a martyr of the notorious Emergency... But Stalinâ€™s climb to the top of the DMK partyâ€™s hierarchy was thwarted by his own fatherâ€™s ambitions. Unlike a Mulayam, who made way to his progeny, Karunanidhi was unprepared to relinquish control over the party even to his own son. So till the normal age of superannuation in government service, Stalin remained head of the DMKâ€™s youth brigade. For decade after decade, the DMKâ€™s geriatric club headed by Karunanidhi continued to control the party, and whenever the DMK was elected to power, they controlled the state government too. In 2004, when the Manmohan Singh Government was installed in power in Delhi with the support of the DMK, Karunanidhi saw in it an opportunity for himself to play kingmaker in national politics. He also had his eyes set on a gubernatorial post if not the nation's Presidentship. To facilitate his climb, he got his grand nephew Dayanidhi Maran, who was proficient in Hindi and English, to be his pointsman in Delhi. Dayanidhi, always sporting a broad grin, unlike his surly father, became Union minister of Telecom and was a daily visitor to the residence of Sonia Aunty. While his new position helped Dayanidhiâ€™s brother Kalanidhi to build up his media empire and amass wealth, it however did not bring Karunanidhi the benefits he had hoped for. Dayanidhiâ€™s frequent appearance on his brotherâ€™s TV channels during his visits to Tamilnadu, his moving around in a red-beaconed car with police security and his growing affluence raised the hackles of Azhagiri, Stalinâ€™s uncouth elder brother, who from the mid-1980s had been content with lording it over Madurai and the southern districts of Tamilnadu grabbing land, terrorising businessmen and generally indulging in all the unsavoury activities that the spoilt sons of powerful politicians normally do. Azhagiri made his statement in his inimitable style, sending a bunch of hoodlums to devastate the offices of Dinakaran newspaper in Madurai, belonging to the Maran brothers. In the orgy, an entire office was vandalised and burnt to ashes. And three innocent employees were killed. Forced to take a stand, Karunanidhi, who was Chief Minister of Tamilnadu at that time, chose to justify the violent deeds of his son and withdrew Dayanidhi Maran from the Union cabinet. He also publicly severed his connections with the Maran brothers and their Sun TV network and launched his own TV network as a rival. Azhagiri now upped his ante. â€śYouâ€™ve made my younger brother a minister in the state and my upstart nephew a Union Minister while you yourself are happily enjoying the office of Chief Minister. What about me?â€ť he is said to have shouted at Karunanidhi. And doting father that he was, Karunanidhi obliged in the very next elections by getting the prodigal son elected to Parliament and making him also a Union Minister. During his forgettable tenure, Azhagiri had the dubious distinction of never answering a question relating to his ministry in Parliament. In fact, he rarely used to attend Parliament and quit the post in 2013, when the DMK, sensing the eclipse of the UPA under Manmohan Singh, pulled out of the Government altogether. In the meantime, Karunanidhiâ€™s ambitious third wife Rajathi pushed the claims of her daughter Kanimozhi for a slice of the patriarchâ€™s political legacy. Karunanidhi obliged by making his darling daughter a member of the Rajya Sabha, from which position she managed to plunge headlong into the infamous 2G scam. The trappings of ministership, albeit for a brief term, had whetted Azhagiriâ€™s appetite for political power. He was no longer interested in lording it over his den of thugs. So he began positioning himself as the real successor of Karunanidhi rather than his younger brother Stalin. This proved to be a slap in the face of Stalin, who had patiently been waiting for all of four decades for his father to hang up his gloves before stepping into his shoes. With both brothers engaging in shadow boxing, Karunanidhiâ€™s Gopalapuram home became a war zone. And with the noose tightening on Kanimozhi in the 2G case, his visits to Rajathiâ€™s CIT Nagar residence became nightmarish. With everything he had always loved -- his families and party -- on the verge of collapse, the only thing Karunanidhi could do to stem the rot was to announce to the world that he was continuing as head of the DMK, ad infinitum. And this was an announcement he would have made with great happiness. For if there is one thing Karunanidhi loves more than anything else, it is himself. KP Sunil is a journalist who worked with The Illustrated Weekly of India (Times of India Group) and Observer group (1983 - 1994) and was Vice President of Jaya TV (1999 - 2013). He blogs at kpsthirdeye.blogspot.in Tweet Follow @thenewsminuteÂ Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this articles are the personal opinions of the author. The News Minute is not responsible for the accuracy, completeness, suitability or validity of any information in this article. 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