Ground report: Alagiri’s show of strength in Chennai fails to hit the mark

Alagiri’s peace rally in Chennai saw supporters from Madurai, Sivagangai and Thiruvannamalai in attendance. But it was still far short of the 1 lakh supporters that Alagiri had claimed to have.
Ground report: Alagiri’s show of strength in Chennai fails to hit the mark
Ground report: Alagiri’s show of strength in Chennai fails to hit the mark
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Even as the scorching Chennai heat beat down on the congested Wallajah Road in the heart of Chennai, thousands of men and women sporting black and yellow descended outside the Triplicane Police Station. The crowds, from Madurai, Sivagangai and Thiruvannamalai districts in south Tamil Nadu had all gathered for MK Alagiri’s peace rally in the city to observe the one month of his father M Karunanidhi’s passing.

Ever since five-time Chief Minister and DMK chief M Karunanidhi passed away, Alagiri, who was expelled from the party in 2014, has gone from issuing threats to making overtures to his younger brother MK Stalin in order to rejoin the DMK. Just a week earlier, with statements like “I will have to accept Stalin as leader if I want to rejoin the party”, Alagiri desperately wanted to get back in the fray. The meeting on Wednesday was touted to be his show of strength to his brother and the DMK’s newest President Stalin that the party cannot do without him.

The former Madurai strongman turned up well over an hour late to his rally which was on its way to the Marina shortly before noon.

With drum beats renting the humid air in the city, his supporters were waving around flags with the images of Alagiri and his son Dhayanidhi Alagiri. One supporter from Madurai, wearing a t-shirt with Alagiri’s image on the back and Karunanidhi’s outline on the back yells, “Katchiyin kavalan Azhagiri (Azhagiri, the guardian of the party).

Speaking to TNM, Sheikh Ibrahim who has travelled to Chennai from Madurai for the rally says, “Stalin will take Alagiri back by the end of the year. Stalin is someone who thinks deeply. He will have to consider the consequences. We'll come back to power with the help of Alagiri. Alagiri is strong in Madurai but he is respected everywhere. The priority is to get him back to the party.”

Reciting from a list of points, Kasi Viswanatham from Sivagangai says, “We are not asking for power or administration. We are not even asking for Arivalayam (the DMK headquarters). We are asking them to strengthen the party by uniting us. Without Alagiri winning people will be difficult. We are not blaming Thalapathy (Stalin) for anything. We suspect the intentions of those behind him.”

Se Murugan, a former propaganda functionary from Sivagangai district declares, “Stalin cannot win without the support of Alagiri. If the party is a temple then Alagiri is the guardian of it.”

The DMK as a whole has been accused of dynastic politics as the Karunanidhi clan is politically involved. With the active participation of Stalin’s younger son Udhayanidhi in political events, speculation over his role in the party has also been doing the rounds.

Dhayanidhi Alagiri too has been actively commenting on the issue. When asked about his role, Alagiri's supporters say, “He is also a capable leader. He should be given a ticket to prove himself in the Parliament. He speaks well. He should sit in the Parliament one day.”

While Alagiri was far short of the “minimum one lakh” persons in attendance, with only around 3000-5000 supporters at his rally on Wednesday, what is beyond doubt is that he continues to be a thorn in the side of a party that hopes to revamp itself ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

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