Ex-Actor Udhayanidhi Stalin's Bid To Script Son-Rise In Rising Sun Party

Udhayanidhi Stalin seems to be projecting himself as a leader who can challenge the BJP-led centre.

Ex-Actor Udhayanidhi Stalin's Bid To Script Son-Rise In Rising Sun Party

Udhayanidhi Stalin is contesting Chennai's Chepauk-Thiruvallikeni constituency (File)

In the last leg of campaign for the April 6 Tamil Nadu election, a 'son' is rising in the ranks of Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam or DMK, whose poll symbol is the rising sun. Party chief MK Stalin's son, Udhayanidhi Stalin, has made national headlines as he attacked two BJP stalwarts - Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah.

"PM Modi and Amit Shah target me. That is why I target them,'' Udhayanidhi Stalin told NDTV.

After Amit Shah, in a campaign meeting in the state in March, asked people whether they wanted to see development of Tamil Nadu or of Udhayanidhi Stalin, implying that voting for the DMK was tantamount to voting for dynasty politics, the young leader responded with a sharp counterattack.

Referring to Amit Shah's son, Jay Shah's role in the cricket body BCCI and alleged tax evasion, Udhayanidhi Stalin said, "I am asking Amit Shah, I will write all the property in my name, (and) transfer it to Jay Shah. Will Jay Shah be willing to transfer all his property in my name?'' he asked, alleging that Jay Shah's assets have grown several times over in the last few years.

Udhayanidhi Stalin also gave a stinging response to PM Modi's attack in which he had said there was a crown prince in the DMK and that many senior DMK leaders were feeling sidelined with the "crooked" rise of the actor-politician. Udayanidhi said Mr Modi had become Prime Minister after marginalising several senior leaders. He took the names of LK Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Venkaiah Naidu, Yashwant Sinha and others.

Mr Stalin even alleged that Arun Jaitley and Sushma Swaraj had been "mentally tortured" by Narendra Modi and that had pushed them towards their end.

Daughters of both these leaders tweeted refuting his allegations.

The Tamil Nadu unit of the BJP, meanwhile, has complained against Udhayanidhi Stalin.

"They have asked that I should not be allowed to campaign and that I should be disqualified. This could even be my last meeting. So, if that happens, will each of you become Udayanidhi Stalin and campaign for the DMK?'' he asked the crowd at a public meeting, striking an emotional chord. He also clarified he had not meant any insult to either Arun Jaitley or Sushma Swaraj.

The younger Stalin is making his electoral debut on April 6. He is contesting Chennai's Chepauk-Thiruvallikeni constituency, which has been a DMK bastion.

He, however, has been in public life for a while now. He is a film producer, distributor, and most importantly from the public point of view, an actor. He has played the lead in at least a dozen films starring opposite popular leading ladies like Hansika Motwani and Nayantara. In 2013, he won Filmfare's Best Male Debut award, which was incidentally presented by actor-politician Khushbu, who is the BJP candidate from Chennai's Thousand Lights constituency.

Udhayanidhi Stalin had on several occasions ruled out his joining politics, saying he wanted to focus on his acting career. However, in 2019, he was appointed as the leader of the party's youth wing after MK Stalin became the working president of DMK.

Though he initially showed reluctance in joining politics, he has been one of the star campaigners for DMK. Many say he is more conversational, engaging and articulate than even his dad.
 His Don Bosco School and Loyola College education and his onscreen experience render him an aura and endear him to the masses.

At public meetings addressed by the 42-year-old, children, young girls appear to be enthused with his presence. In one such meeting, a child gave a peck on his cheek, enthralling the audience. The child went on to recite poetry and sang praise of the party.

It is not clear if such displays of affection are planned, but they definitely add to the movie star persona of the politician. With the challenges he is throwing to the senior most politicians, he also appears to be placing himself several notches higher than other debutants.

Mr Stalin seems to be projecting himself as a leader who can challenge the BJP-led centre. After Income Tax raids on his sister Senthamarai and brother-in-law Sabaresan - who many call the main strategist in the family – on Friday, Udhayanidhi mocked the NDA government. "I am Udhayanidhi Stalin, the grandson of Kalaignar (M Karunanidhi). Those kinds of scare-tactics may work with the AIADMK leaders, it won't work with us… the I-T raids have given DMK free publicity," he said.

On dynastic politics charge, Udhayanidhi says: "Let the people of Chepauk (his constituency) decide on that. I am telling them, look at my report card, not my birth certificate."