TN Elections 2016: Is Alagiri’s possible return to DMK part of Karunanidhi’s power play?
In the past couple of days, there has been a sudden flutter of activity in the Alagiri’s political camp, or whatever is left of it. Posters have been sprouting-up not only in Madurai, which was considered his undisputed political bastion, but also in Trichy, where Stalin is considered particularly strong.
Interestingly, reports have emerged from Madurai stating that the first family of the DMK is silently working towards bringing the expelled leader back to the party. Quoting sources close to Alagiri, Express reports that the former strongman’s return might happen before January 30, his birthday, and that the move was initiated by Karunanidhi himself. Stalin, too, it seems has been kept in the loop on this. The reason, the report says, is that the patriarch wants to strengthen the party.
There is another theory: is this Karunanidhi’s ruse to keep a check on Stalin’s ascension and the clamour for an announcement on his CM candidature? March 1 is Stalin’s birthday, and so close the election, there will be immense pressure from his camp on Karunanidhi to make the announcement. Insiders believe that bringing Alagiri back to DMK could act as a deterrent to stall Stalin on his way to the CM-candidate’s post. A top source in Alagiri’s camp told The News Minute, “We want him to get back to the DMK and it is under the leadership of Karunanidhi that DMK will capture power in 2016,” and insisted on Karunanidhi being the undisputed leader. In fact, posters have been put up Trichy, presumably by supporters of Alagiri, targeting Stalin indirectly.
However, there are others who debunk this as mere speculation and a yearly routine.
“I don’t think anyone wants Alagiri back to the DMK. Dynamics have changed. He is not as powerful as he used to be and is not of much use to the party. Also, his mother Dayaluamma, who used to be on his side, is now unwell. He has lost leverage within the family and the party,” says political analyst Gnani Sankaran. He however adds that this could be DMK’s ploy to pre-empt any move from the AIADMK to use Alagiri against the DMK.
Some believe that this is a classic Karunandhi move, trying to keep the power balanced and the family together ahead of elections. “It is expected from Karunanidhi to attempt this. He is known to patch things up before important events. Ahead of the elections, for the sake of the family and the party, he might want to bring Alagiri back in the fold,” says Ramu Manivannan, professor of Political Science at the Madras University. Manivannan also believes that Alagiri still has the ability to dent DMK’s chance of winning in the southern districts.
Many in DMK also say that Alagiri has long outlived his utility and instead his return is fraught with risks for the DMK. “Sparing one of two, almost every person in his camp has shifted allegiance to Stalin. All these leaders, like I Periyasamy and Thangam Thennarusu, have been given key roles by Stalin. If Alagiri is brought back in, obviously these people will have to face a tough time under him as he would hold a grudge for deserting him. This will not augur well for the party,” said a party functionary close to the first family. And with Alagiri failing to deliver at the Centre, and now having lost his stronghold in the south, positioning him in the present hierarchy would be tricky and rather avoidable, the source added.