DMK chief MK Stalin's son and actor Udhayanidhi has been appointed the party's youth wing secretary, a position that his father held for 35 long years - even after becoming a grandfather. The 42-year-old actor is managing director of the family-owned Murasoli Trust that runs the DMK's mouthpiece Murasoli, founded by his grandfather and former chief minister M Karunanidhi.
Udhayanidhi Stalin is the fourth member of the Karunanidhi family occupying key positions in the party.
K Stalin's sister Kanimozhi is a Lok Sabha parliamentarian; his nephew Dayanidhi Maran is a three-time parliamentarian and former union minister... his elder brother MK Alagiri has been a parliamentarian. Mr Alagiri was expelled by K Karunanidhi after a bitter sibling rivalry for the DMK chief's chair when their father was alive.
Last month, former minister in the previous DMK government, Vellakovil Saminathan, offered to resign as DMK's youth wing secretary citing "personal reasons".
Though Udhayanidhi formally entered the political arena today, he has been active in the DMK for the last two years. He was one of the party's star campaigners who toured the state seeking votes for the party before the national election.
"It's not a question of nepotism. Politically, Udhayanidhi Stalin has proved his mettle like his father Stalin... he campaigned extensively in the recently held elections. He should be rewarded for his work," a senior DMK leader told NDTV.
Another senior leader of the party told NDTV, "Unlike Stalin, there won't be any opposition or competition for Udhayanidhi from the family. Stalin had to compete with his brother Alagiri at every stage but here it will be an easy way forward for Udhayanidhi".
Though the appointment could trigger discontentment, many say none would revolt openly. "Remember what happened to Vaiko when he was seen as a challenger to MK Stalin. He was expelled and now he would become a parliamentarian only with the help of Stalin. DMK is a family party and only those who can accept this can survive," a senior leader told NDTV, asking not to be identified.
Another leader said Udhayanidhi could bring something on the table. "To draw youth to the party in these days of indifference we need a face, and he being an actor would be able to draw youngsters. He has in a sense earned this by working a bit for this," a DMK leader said.
Rival parties have often accused the DMK of dynastic politics when, after M Karunanidhi took charge of the party, both his sons MK Stalin and MK Alagiri were also given party posts, including his daughter Kanimozhi.