DMK prez Stalin holds firm grip over party, but has long way to go

Chennai: A year ago, when M K Stalin was elected as DMK president days after the death of his father M Karunanidhi, who occupied the seat for five decades, many said he was stepping into rather large shoes. They were of the opinion that Stalin was not like his dad, who was smart, sharp and shrewd. In fact, in Stalin’s very own words: “I am not Kalaignar to speak like him. I can’t match his mastery over language. But, I can dare to try.”

True, ‘thalapathy’ is no ‘thalaivar’. But, as ‘thalaivar’, he has proved what a ‘thalapathy’ is capable of – defeating foes in battleground. After a string of failures since 2011, the DMK, along with its alliance partners, won 38 of 39 constituencies in Tamilnadu and the lone seat in Puducherry in the recently concluded Lok Sabha elections. Also, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam candidates emerged triumphant in 13 out of 22 Assembly constituencies which faced by-elections.

Though these victories did not help the DMK much – either to share power in the Centre or to dethrone the AIADMK government in the State – they had indeed rejuvenated the party apparatus and established Stalin’s supremacy, perhaps resulting in Udhayanidhi Stalin’s elevation as the DMK’s youth wing leader.

But, the real test lies in 2021, when Assembly elections are slated to be held in Tamilnadu. While even his foes cannot deny the hardwork of Stalin, it is felt a few other qualities hardly work in his favour.

Says a political analyst, “Now that it has become more or less clear that the Edappadi K Palaniswami government can’t be brought down, Stalin should stop saying in his public meetings that he would soon put an end to the AIADMK rule. Rather, he should focus on the Assembly polls from now itself. For the first time in the history, the DMK, as opposition party, has more than 100 legislators in the Assembly. The general opinion among the public is that the DMK is not doing much in the Assembly provided its massive strength.”

He adds: “It is good that Stalin is giving his voice in national issues like the abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir. He had even called for a protest in New Delhi. But this is not the way to project himself in the national politics, as the move was viewed as anti-Indian. There are lessons in the life of Karunanidhi and it’s time for Stalin to read them.” Only then, the jump of Stalin from ‘Ilaignar Ani’ to ‘Kalaignar Ani’ will get justified.

M Bhaskar Sai