- No decision on MK Stalin's elevation as DMK chief was taken at DMK meet
- A resolution condoling Mr Karunanidhi's death was passed at the meet
- His brother MK Alagiri claimed to have support of Karunanidhi loyalists
The first meeting of the DMK after the death of party patriarch M Karunanidhi was expected to look to the future by formally anointing his son, MK Stalin as the party chief. Instead, the gathering of nearly 300 party leaders from across the state mourned the departed leader and anticipated having his son in the driving seat.
Speculation about Mr Stalin's elevation had intensified after his elder brother MK Alagiri, expelled from the party four years ago, made an appearance at his father's memorial and claimed that the Karunanidhi loyalists were with him. Party insiders, however, claimed that Mr Stalin had such a strong grip on the party, he cannot be dislodged by an outsider.
The meeting today confirmed that the de facto chief of the party felt no pressure. Speaking for the first time since his father's funeral, Mr Stalin dwelt long on the tussle with the ruling AIADMK for space on Marina Beach to bury his father. The approval finally came from the Madras High Court, which also ordered the AIADMK to build a grand memorial for the Kalaignar (artiste).
"I held the hands of the Chief Minister and pleaded for space. They did not agree," Mr Stalin said, adding had they lost the case, he would have been crushed.
After the condolence messages, many DMK leaders asked Mr Stalin to take up the top job.
"Dear Thalapathi (commander), who is soon going to become (DMK) president, we are prepared to follow your orders... lead us," senior DMK leader Duraimurugan said to cheers from party workers. "You have all the skills... you have the skills of Anna (DMK founder CN Annadurai), Kalaignar (Karunanidhi) and yourself. There is nobody in Tamil Nadu who can defeat you," he said.
DMK leader and former Union Minister TR Baalu said: "The commander of the army is no more. Nobody has to tell who will be the next commander. Stalin has all the qualities to lead."
The political heir of his father, Mr Stalin had been handling the party during his ill health for more than a year.
Mr Karunanidhi had expelled Mr Alagiri in 2014 after he criticised the party - a friction that at the bottom was a struggle for the control of the party.
Sources close to Mr Stalin said the party is solidly behind him and there is no threat of any kind from Mr Alagiri. A lawmaker said, "Our late leader himself had expelled his elder son Alagiri. So it's a closed chapter."
(With inputs from IANS)