Chennai: Unfazed about his suspension from DMK and severe criticism by the party high command, MK Alagiri's supporters are holding celebrations for the leader in Madurai. Making the rift in the DMK evident, three party MPs were seen as a part of the suspended leader's birthday celebrations.
Giant posters, with lyrics in praise of Alagiri, who have good rapport with cadres, are seen in every part of the city. "For you pathavi (position) is not important...You have cadres with you." said one poster while another poster carried a picture of Alagiri's mother Dayalu Ammal blessing his son with a tilak.
DMK had recently expelled Alagiri from the party posts for speaking against his younger brother and heir apparent MK Stalin. In retaliation, an angry Alagiri allegedly told his father and DMK chief M Karunanidhi that Stalin would die within three months.
In a statement an upset Karunanidhi said, "Alagiri came to my house on January 24 and complained regarding Stalin and troubled me and used harsh words. Alagiri told me Stalin will die in three months. No father can tolerate such words against his son. I do not know why Alagiri has nurtured such hatred against Stalin for many years. Alagiri should have met me in person and spoken about any issues he had about his suspension. But he has been talking to the media. He is still under temporary suspension; party will take a call on expulsion."
Reacting to the developments, Alagiri expressed shock over what his father had said about him. "The tears of my father should fall on my dead body. I am shocked at the clarification by Karunanidhi," he said.
He wished his father a long life and said, "The DMK president should live long. He has said that I behaved in a way that hurt him. He could have told this after suspending me from the party, the party cadres know about me. I respect my father. I have not done anything wrong. I will always stand behind my loyalists. I'm shocked to hear the statements my made by my father. All the charges against me are false. I have not told anything against my conscience. This is the gift from the DMK party on my birthday."
Alagiri's son Dhaya Alagiri also took on his grandfather for talking to the media about what Alagiri allegedly told him about Stalin. In a tweet, Dhaya said, "False accusations will not last long... The truth will come out soon... Definitely! I didn't expect this from such a elderly leader!"
The new development has come as a shock to the first family of DMK and its cadres across the state. Things are happening at a wrong time for the party. The DMK will be fighting a 'do or die' battle in the Lok Sabha elections due in April-May. According to ground reports the situation is not favouring the party.
Party patriarch, an ailing M Karunanidhi is now being forced to take a stand and side with MK Stalin. The cadre is expecting him to lead the party in the elections. But he is now too busy with sorting out his family problems.
Alagiri was expelled from all party positions after he openly revolted against the leadership of his younger brother Stalin. A few days before that some of his supporters were expelled from the party.
Stalin vs Alagiri fight is not new to Tamil Nadu politics. Karunanidhi's two sons have been against each other for a long time. Karunanidhi's decision to anoint Stalin as his successor has worsened the sibling rivalry in recent times.
While Alagiri has been DMK's southern commander lording over Madurai region, Stalin has been the leader of the DMK in north Tamil Nadu and the state capital Chennai. Even though Alagiri is a powerful leader in Southern Tamil Nadu with an iron grip over Madurai region, his abrasive ways have made him unpopular.
In an interview to Tamil channel Puthiya Thalaimurai, a month ago, Alagiri had categorically denied accepting anyone other than his father Karunanidhi as the DMK leader. This is being seen in the light of the growing rift between Alagiri and Stalin.
Recently the Madurai unit of the DMK was disbanded by Stalin because of differences with Alagiri supporters. Alagiri, in the interview, had claimed that he was sidelined in the party but maintained that he would be quiet.
In 2009, a reluctant Alagiri was dispatched to New Delhi as a Union Minister by his father. Alagiri, who is fluent only in Tamil felt like a foreigner in Delhi, and started spending more time back home to keep an eye on the activities of Stalin.