In what was purportedly a show of strength, expelled DMK leader MK Alagiri led a silent rally of his supporters to the mausoleum of his late father and DMK patriarch M Karunanidhi at the Marina beach on Wednesday.
Dressed in black, to condole Karunanidhi's death, Alagiri joined the rally from near Triplicane Police station and came to the Marina beach in an open vehicle, accompanied by his elder daughter and thousands of supporters afoot.
After walking for a while, Alagiri hopped on to an open van, waving enthusiastically to cheer his cadres. The expelled leader's followers from various districts held banners, which read "karam korpom kazhagam kappom" (let us join hands and guard the party).
He later thanked the media and his supporters for turning up for the march but deftly escaped questions on him being re-inducted in the party, a demand his supporters openly spoke about ahead of the rally. "There is no ulterior motive to this rally, Alagiri told reporters at the Kalaignar Memorial. "I just wanted to pay homage to my father."
When asked about the cases of DMK party workers being dismissed for showing him any sort of support, he said that there were 1.5 lakh cadres in the Wednesday's rally and asked if Stalin was planning to remove all of them as well from the DMK. Earlier, DMK had suspended party functionary M Ravi who welcomed Alagiri at the Chennai airport, for "bringing disrepute to the party."
Alagiri had dropped ample hints that he was ready to settle past differences and work with his brother MK Stalin. However, DMK has not extended the olive branch to him yet, with Stalin keeping mum. Alagiri had said that he was ready to accept his younger brother and party president Stalin as his "leader" — if he was taken back into the party.
Alagiri said that the current leadership of DMK — a reference to Stalin — was not willing to re-admit him despite his requests. He said that the DMK did not consist just of the General Council, which has elected Stalin as the DMK president, and that "genuine party cadres" were with him. Asked if he would accept Stalin's leadership, Alagiri said: "If I am in the party, then I will."
Earlier, just before Stalin's election as the party president, Alagiri had warned the DMK that if the party leadership did not take him back, then it will have to face "consequences". However, he did not elaborate on the consequences.
Wednesday's rally was also apparently a follow-up on these hints to further signal the party that his influence has not yet waned, at least amid the grassroots workers from southern Tamil Nadu.
The former Union minister's loyalists, including Madurai-based PM Mannan, took part in the rally. Thousands of people were brought in buses from southern parts of the state. An estimate by the reporters on the ground suggest that as many as 20,000 people came to Chennai to participate in the rally. Meanwhile, the Chennai Police's crowd control measures were in place with over 2,000 personnel deployed on the streets.
Alagiri was expelled from the DMK in 2014. Those were the days when Alagiri and Stalin supporters openly clashed on the streets of Tamil Nadu, often indulging in violence as the former resented Karunanidhi's preference for the latter. Ultimately, Karunanidhi stepped in and showed the door to Alagiri in 2014, clearly favouring Stalin to take over party affairs in time.
With inputs from agencies
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Updated Date: Sep 05, 2018 17:43:21 IST