Chennai: Should his party win the Tamil Nadu election, M Karunanidhi, 93, is clear on what comes next. "If I win, I would be the Chief Minister for the sixth time," he told NDTV today in an exclusive interview.
- Ready to serve sixth term as Chief Minister, says DMK chief
- Karunanidhi is 93, picked son Stalin as political heir in 2013
- Tamil Nadu votes on May 16, results on May 19
In 2013, Mr Karunanidhi announced his younger son MK Stalin as his political heir. Since then, the 63 year-old's career graph has been flat. And a big promotion isn't imminent, apparently.
"Stalin can become Chief Minister only if nature does something to me," Mr Karunanidhi said at his party's headquarters in Chennai.
Tamil Nadu, which votes on Monday, has spent its recent history see-sawing between Mr Karunanidhi's party, the DMK, and the AIADMK, headed by Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa.
The rinse-and-repeat type pattern has given Mr Karunanidhi five stints at leading the state; she has served three terms.
For years, Mr Karunanidhi, unable to walk, has used a wheelchair. His attendance in the Tamil Nadu legislature over the last five years has been poor. Ms Jayalalithaa's infrequent appearances have also been attributed to poor health, though her party vehemently refutes talk of a serious illness.
For decades, Mr Karunanidhi's sons squabbled publicly over who their father would pick as his successor. Mr Stalin won that battle against MK Alagiri three years ago. In the past, he has served as Chennai Mayor and Deputy Chief Minister for his father. He led the campaign for the DMK for this election and the general election held two years ago.
If he is inclined to consider the glass half-full, he could take heart in the fact that his father had earlier said that there was no guarantee that a son of his would be Chief Minister after him (this is not a "mutt" or religious organization he had said of his party). Today, Mr Karunanidhi has suggested a change in attitude, stating that when he retires, Mr Stalin could get his shot at the big leagues.