MK Stalin takes charge as DMK president: Revolting Alagiri, upcoming Lok Sabha polls has strewn path ahead with challenges

DMK leader and son of late M Karunanidhi, MK Stalin was appointed as the president of the party on Tuesday, ushering in a new era in Tamil Nadu politics. However, as the chief Opposition leader in the state, Stalin has many challenges ahead of him.

One of his biggest challenge currently is the revolt by his own brother and expelled party member, MK Alagiri who had started a fresh succession war just days after Karunanidhi's death. Alagiri had claimed that all loyal party workers are with him and hit out at Stalin, accusing him of blocking his return to the party.

Speaking to News18, political commentator Sampath Kumar said that Stalin should re-induct Alagiri. “Karunanidhi was a Chanakya who embraced everyone in the party and kept all the district secretaries and key members of the party happy. He had great support from party cadre. Stalin has to follow the same. He has to be careful and include Alagiri in the party. Otherwise, he will find it difficult to tread the political path in the absence of a charismatic leader like Karunanidhi,” Kumar said.

File image of MK Stalin. PTI

File image of MK Stalin. PTI

Alagiri, who was kicked out of the party in 2014, warned that if he was not taken back into the party, then DMK would have to face “consequences". He has also announced his plans to hold a rally in Chennai in September as a show of strength. “Kalaignar is not alive today. When he was alive, he had promised to take me back to the party. But these people stopped him from doing that. We should save the DMK. If I am not taken back into the party, they will have to face the consequences in the future,” Alagiri had warned.

Thus, Stalin has to ensure that he integrates the cadre and senior leaders and manages both his allies as well as opponents. "His immediate challenge is to make sure no senior leader or district secretary or disgruntled member takes part in the 5 September rally (called by Alagiri),” senior journalist RK Radhakrishnan told News18.

However, like all big political parties, DMK and thus Stalin's biggest challenge will be the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. “2019 is the test for Stalin as a leader. He has to deliver a minimum of 30 seats for the DMK because you have TTV Dinakaran and the (AIADMK) government pulling in different directions. Stalin has to keep his flock together. But remember, Stalin’s leadership has not tasted electoral success. Polls in 2011, 2014 and 2016 were all lost despite the fact that he was leading from the front. He is under very serious pressure to deliver,” Radhakrishnan said.

He also has to face the challenge of leading the party to victory in the ensuing by-elections in two Assembly constituencies in Tamil Nadu: Tiruvarur (which fell vacant after Karunanidhi's death) and Tiruparankundran (vacant after the death of AIADMK lawmaker AK Bose).

Stalin’s political journey began at the age of 14 when he campaigned as a school student in the 1967 elections. In 1973, when he was 20, Stalin was elected to the General committee of the DMK. He came into the limelight when he was jailed under the Maintenance of Internal Security Act (MISA) for protesting against the Emergency. He became an MLA for the first time in 1989 from Thousand Lights constituency from where he was re-elected thrice.

In 2003, Stalin was elevated to be the deputy general secretary of the DMK. He was then elected as the party treasurer in 2010 and re-elected in 2015. In 2017, he took over as DMK’s working president, when Karunanidhi effectively withdrew from active politics.

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Updated Date: Aug 28, 2018 14:02:40 IST

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