Sun sets on Karuna, Stalin era dawns

Key points
  • Actively involved in the stir against the Emergency, Stalin was arrested under MISA.
  • Stalin joined DMK as an ordinary worker and gradually rose to deputy CM in decades.
Karuna had along ago declared Stalin will be his successor: Photo | Manorama

Chennai: Muthuvel Karunanidhi Stalin will now lead the Dravida Munnetra Kazhakam (DMK). Kalaignar Karunanidhi had years ago decided to make Stalin his successor in the party and government. However, he was careful to avoid public criticism on the matter and made his son come up the party hierarchy from the lowest rungs.

Stalin began his stint in DMK as an ordinary worker and gradually rose to the treasurer and deputy chief minister in a career that took decades. He is now the working president of the DMK.

It was Stalin who implemented a majority of the DMK government’s welfare schemes as the local bodies minister. He extensively toured the state of Tamil Nadu during the Lok Sabha elections and developed a rapport with party functionaries at all levels.

However, Stalin now faces challenges like gaining the confidence of senior party leaders, maintaining good relations with the alliance partners etc.

Stalin’s elevation was also enabled by the stormy relationship Karunanidhi had with his eldest son, M K Azhagiri. After being expelled from the party, Azhagiri is no longer active in politics. Though his daughter Kanimozhi also announced her arrival on the political scene, Karunanidhi always preferred Stalin as the person to take his place.

Up the rungs

Stalin ventured into politics by taking part in an anti-Hindi agitation along with his father at the age of 13. He was active in the stir which Karunanidhi had led at Thiruvarur.

Stalin and Karunanidhi in a file photo

Later, he headed the party’s youth wing while being a student at the Madras Christian College School, Chetpet. He spoke at a DMK public meeting held at Mambalam high road, Kodambakkam on January 3, 1969.

Actively involved in the stir against the Emergency, Stalin was arrested under MISA (Maintenance of Internal Security Act) and jailed along with DMK workers on January 31, 1976. However, he utilised the term behind bars effectively and gained his bachelors degree. Stalin was released after the Emergency was lifted on January 23, 1977.

He reached the Tamil Nadu Assembly in his maiden electoral battle itself – from Thousand Lights seat in Chennai in 1989. Steadily rising in the ranks, Stalin became the mayor of Chennai in 1996 and was re-elected to the post in 2001. However, the Jayalalithaa government removed him from the mayor's position in 2002, citing a rule against holding dual posts. Stalin was also an MLA at that time.

After Stalin was elected to the Assembly for the fourth time, he was entrusted with the charge of local administration ministry by Karunanidhi, who came to power on May 13, 2006.