Chennai: M K Stalin was elected unopposed as president of the DMK today, heralding a new era in Tamil Nadu’s opposition party that was led by his father, the late M Karunanidhi, for nearly five decades.
Stalin, 65, who is the second president of the DMK, was the only candidate to file his nomination for the party chief’s post on August 26, DMK general secretary K Anbazhagan said at the party’s General Council meeting here. Stalin’s elevation, about three weeks after the death of Karunanidhi on August 7, comes amid threats by his elder brother and expelled DMK leader M K Alagiri that the party will have to face “consequences” if he is not re-admitted into its fold.
Party patriarch Karunanidhi became the first president of the DMK in 1969. “Only Mr M K Stalin’s nomination papers were filed for party chief’s post…. since none other than Stalin is contesting for the party president’s post, Mr M K Stalin is being elected unanimously as the chief,” Anbazhagan said as members of the DMK’s General Council cheered loudly. Chants hailing Stalin as “Thalapathy” (Commander) went up at the Kalaignar Arangam where the meeting was held. DMK principal secretary Durai Murugan was elected treasurer, a post Stalin vacated recently.
Anbazhagan, a party veteran, recalled that Karunanidhi had once said he had not performed any duties for Stalin’s progress as a father, but he had performed his duties and made him proud as a son. The General Council wanted “Kalaignar’s son” to become party president, he added. Karunanidhi is addressed as Kalaignar. Tracing Stalin’s political journey, Anbazhagan recalled his “untold miseries” while being incarcerated under the then stringent Maintenance of Internal Security Act (MISA) during the Emergency in 1976.
He said Stalin later became deputy mayor of Chennai, was inducted in the 2006 DMK cabinet as a minister and went on to be elevated as deputy chief minister. While his estranged brother Alagiri continued to question Stalin’s leadership credentials, DMK district units and a host of party wings stood like a rock behind him adopting formal resolutions proposing his name for the party’s top post, party leaders said. Karunanidhi, who died at the age of 94, was appointed DMK president in 1969, a post created for him following the death of party founder C N Annadurai. Annadurai was the party general secretary when he passed away.
Stalin has waited patiently for his elevation to the party’s top post. His name had been doing the rounds in the DMK since 2007 when it was expected that he would be named Karunanidhi’s successor at a party youth wing conference in Tirunelveli. Stalin, the younger son of Karunanidhi, had held several party posts, including that of DMK treasurer and youth wing secretary. His journey in the party began early when he campaigned in the 1967 elections as a 14-year-old school student.
He became the party’s youth-wing secretary in 1984. Stalin’s growth has been steady and he became the party deputy general secretary in 2003. He was re-elected treasurer for the second five-year term in January 2015, a post he vacated recently in view of his elevation. He became an MLA for the first time in 1989 from Thousand Lights constituency in the city from where he was re-elected thrice.