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Alagiri's homecoming bid into DMK a non-starter, but Stalin cannot ignore elder brother's nuisance value

For the last three days, sources close to the DMK's first family reveal that MK Alagiri had been mounting pressure through different members of his family on younger brother MK Stalin to take him back into the party. But the plan was a non-starter, with both Stalin and DMK general secretary K Anbazhgan adamant that there was no homecoming possible for Alagiri. Ninety-five-year-old Anbazhgan, a contemporary of Karunanidhi, argued that the late DMK patriarch had himself taken the decision to expel Alagiri in 2014 and there was no reason to overturn his decision.

The outburst at Karunanidhi's samadhi, less than a week after the former Tamil Nadu chief minister passed away, was a result of this frustration. Alagiri had not managed even the optics well. A majority of those who were standing by him at the samadhi when he boasted that his father's 'true and loyal followers' are with him, were reportedly from Madurai and no longer part of the DMK. That in a nutshell, was an indication of Alagiri's status vis-a-vis the DMK. Over the past four years, Stalin has ensured posts in the party only to those who swear personal loyalty to him and Alagiri's supporters have been shown the door.

For years, Alagiri had ensured Karunanidhi did not put a succession plan in place. "The DMK is not a Mutt to anoint a successor,'' Alagiri had even repeated his father's famous words when the patriarch would seek to sidestep questions on the succession battle.

 Alagiris homecoming bid into DMK a non-starter, but Stalin cannot ignore elder brothers nuisance value

M Karunanidhi's sons Stalin and Alagiri are locked in a battle for the DMK's legacy. News18

But differences between Alagiri and Stalin reached a point of no return. This despite Karunanidhi trying to introduce a semblance of order into the intra-family and intra-party rivalry by asking his elder son to take care of Madurai and the southern districts. Karunanidhi's decision to show Alagiri the door was a clear indication who his political successor would be.

Despite being the elder of the two brothers, Alagiri saw Stalin get the better of him. That it rankled is obvious with Alagiri taking potshots at Stalin, calling him `workless president' instead of working president of the DMK. After the humiliating loss in the RK Nagar bypoll where the DMK lost its deposit, Alagiri said the party will never win an election so long as Stalin leads it.

But a return to the DMK was only one of the conditions Alagiri placed before the family. With Stalin remaining adamant, he offered that his son Dayanidhi Alagiri be given a position in the party structure. This bid to negotiate too was turned down, with apprehension within the Stalin camp that Alagiri will once again wield clout if Dayanidhi was accommodated. In fact, several party seniors counselled Stalin not to give in to emotional pressure from the family.

Sources within the DMK also point out that Alagiri is equally peeved about he or any of his family members not being on the board of the DMK Trust, a cash-rich outfit. So these moves are more about ensuring space for his gen-next in what Karunanidhi has left behind, in terms of wealth, clout and a political future.

That Alagiri is ambitious is well-known. When he was chemicals minister in the UPA government, his supporters during his birthday bash in Madurai would describe him as 'MK Alagiri, CM'.

Alagiri is well known for being a field person. But his modus operandi also is to cross the line, with liberal use of money and muscle power. He is credited as the brain behind the Thirumangalam formula, when the DMK allegedly distributed Rs 5,000 for a vote in the by-election in Thirumangalam. Though it was widely believed that allegations of involvement in the 2G scam cost Karunanidhi power in the election in 2011, Jayalalithaa herself interpreted the DMK rout in southern Tamil Nadu as 'people's anger' against the 'rowdy raj' of Alagiri and his men.

What Alagiri said at Karunanidhi's samadhi on Monday is old wine in a new bottle. The only element he introduced in media interactions was to bring in Rajinikanth's name, suggesting he could work with him. If his moves to get back to the DMK do not fructify, Alagiri will try to damage Stalin's prospects in Madurai and adjoining areas by floating a rival DMK-like outfit. That would be music to the ears of the AIADMK and the TTV Dhinakaran-led party.

With Stalin's control complete over the DMK, it is tough for Alagiri to make his way back into the party unless mother Dayalu Ammal makes an emotional pitch. But the elder brother will always be someone Stalin needs to watch out for. Though Alagiri is not known to have the mass appeal to woo a pan-Tamil Nadu electorate, Stalin cannot ignore his nuisance value, especially if the DMK does not put up a good performance in 2019. Under Stalin's watch, the DMK came a cropper in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls and could not return to power in Tamil Nadu in 2016.

Like the AIADMK, the DMK too has seen a rebellion of sorts, though an extremely mild one. It only confirms that after the demise of the towering giants - Jayalalithaa and Karunanidhi - Dravidian politics in Tamil Nadu will not be the same.

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Updated Date: Aug 13, 2018 17:55:04 IST