MK Stalin, DMK's New Boss, Is All Set For "Huge Responsibility"

MK Stalin, 65, who was his father's chosen heir, became the second man after Kalaignar to be elected as the president of Tamil Nadu's main opposition party

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MK Stalin, DMK's New Boss, Is All Set For 'Huge Responsibility'

In the 80s, Stalin gave acting a shot and was seen in a few Tamil films and TV shows.


New Delhi: 

MK Stalin, who began his political career as a teen, today took charge of the DMK, the party that his father M Karunanidhi helmed for 49 years. As Mr Karunanidhi's health started deteriorating about a year ago, Mr Stalin led the party till his father's death three weeks ago.

One of the popular leaders in Tamil politics, Mr Karunanidhi was elected the DMK president in 1969. The post was created for him following the death of DMK founder CN Annadurai.

The 65-year-old leader, who was his father's chosen heir, became the second man after Kalaignar to be elected as the president of Tamil Nadu's main opposition party.

Mr Karunanidhi had wanted to name Stalin as Ayyadurai -- "Ayya" from rationalist leader EV Ramasamy Periyar who was addressed so, and Durai from Annadurai -- but he changed his mind following the death of Soviet leader Joseph Stalin in 1953.

The six-time lawmaker began campaigning for the DMK in the 1967 assembly elections as a 14-year-old. During the Emergency, he was arrested under the draconian Maintenance of Internal Security (MISA) Act and was imprisoned.

DMK general secretary K Anbazhagan today remembered how Stalin had to face "untold miseries" during his MISA days.

A few years later, Stalin became the head of the DMK's youth wing in 1984 and later made his debut as a legislator in 1989. In the 80s, Stalin gave acting a shot and was seen in a few Tamil films and TV shows.

As the Mayor of DMK-dominated Chennai Corporation between 1996 and 2001, Stalin was credited for the construction of a number of flyovers to ease traffic congestion. However, these were soon to trouble him.

When the AIADMK came back to power in 2001, the government accused Stalin and Mr Karunanidhi of corrupt practices in the construction of the flyovers, resulting in their infamous midnight arrest.

However, the state police later dropped the case for lack of evidence.

By 2006, Stalin had displayed his political acumen, but his induction into his father's cabinet as a minister and his elevation as the Deputy Chief Minister in 2009 led to a succession war between him and his elder brother MK Alagiri, who was already a union minister.

However, Mr Karunanidhi made it clear that Stalin would succeed him and inherit his legacy.

While the sibling rivalry refused to die down, their father threw Alagiri out of the party in 2014 over alleged anti-party activities. The move was seen as clearing the decks for Stalin's elevation in the future.

Stalin had finalised the party's strategy for the 2014 Lok Sabha polls in which the DMK drew a blank, and in 2016, the party lost the assembly elections to  arch-rival J Jayalalithaa's AIADMK.

At the DMK headquarters today, amid drumbeats and flutter of the party's black-and-red flags, Stalin remembered his father and said, "I never dreamt that I would lead the party. It is a huge responsibility... I don't say I would lead. Let's do it together. Let's question all including ourselves if we go wrong."

After the meeting, Stalin visited his father's memorial on Chennai's Marina Beach to seek his blessings.



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