Banished DMK leader MK Alagiri — whose faceoff with his younger brother MK Stalin led to his expulsion from the party his father led for well over a half a century — is said to be aggressively wooed by the Bharatiya Janata Party, which is looking to make inroads into Tamil Nadu in the forthcoming Assembly elections.
Over the last two days, there have been reports that Alagiri will meet Amit Shah during the home minister’s visit to Chennai on Saturday, and that the former DMK leader will also launch his own party ahead of the elections. The BJP, which has been prolific in its acquisition of starry campaigners and prominent politicians in the state, is said to be gunning for Stalin’s brother.
Alagiri’s son Dayanidhi, however, rubbished the reports and even dubbed as “false" the rumours of the launch of a political party. When asked whether the BJP was holding talks with his father, he said he was not aware of such meeting.
Later, speaking to CNN-News18, Alagiri said, “There is nothing of that sort now. Someone is spreading rumours. If I’m starting something, I will let you know. I haven’t spoken to my loyalists in the last six months, not even during Diwali. There is still time for it." He further said that he is likely to float his own party but added that there are no such plans as of now.
Alagiri, before his expulsion from the DMK, was the party’s southern strongman. During his heyday, his clout was such that his will on all matters wielded a lot of influence on the party’s decisions, from electoral alliances to candidates to campaign planning. According to several sources within the party, Alagiri’s disillusionment was chiefly over the gradual rise of his younger brother and the favour he appeared to enjoy with his father, former DMK president M Karunanidhi.
Alagiri was expelled from the party even when Karunanidhi was holding all the power in the DMK. In March 2014, Alagiri, who was then the party’s South Organizational Secretary, was sacked. He had accused the party high command of acting unilaterally. Karunandhi had addressed the press after a showdown at his residence with Alagiri, clearly establishing Alagiri has no place in the party.
After Karunanidhi’s death Alagiri had tried to stoke tensions within the DMK but the party stood by MK Stalin, its leader designate then. Since then, Alagiri had remained in political wilderness, neither confirming nor denying the constant rumour that he could be joining hands with the BJP to take on his younger brother.
For the BJP, Alagiri would be a prized asset in the South. And then there’s the symbolic victory in wooing the son of M Karunanidhi, who had lived all his life pushing back Brahminic hegemonic forces from Tamil Nadu. Should Alagiri take the bait, it would be a coup for the BJP. Will Anjanenjan (brave heart, monicker for Alagiri) have a change of heart?