Saturday, July 30, 2011

Cry for Stalin runs into lunch wall


tumblr_lhhedwQlQI1qdya2a.jpg (500×333)                                                                  Coimbatore, July 24: The DMK’s general council today sought to skirt the sensitive matter of succession in the party by reaffirming its faith in M. Karunanidhi, though some leaders openly expressed their support for Stalin.
“This general council wishes a long life to Karunanidhi so he can continue to lead the Dravidian movement as its singular leader and show the way for Tamil Nadu,” the council declared in the second of its 25 resolutions. It described Karunanidhi as a multi-faceted leader whose reach went beyond electoral politics.
But a few minutes after the resolution was adopted, an impassioned plea to name a reliable leader who can lead the DMK in the future came from K. Ramanathan, an 80-year-old former MP who has stood by Karunanidhi through thick and thin for over five decades.
“The party is more important than all of us. Please touch your conscience and tell us who will lead the party after you,” Ramanathan said at the end of his speech. Immediately there was a collective roar of “thalapathy, thalapathy (general)” — the title Stalin’s followers use to address him — from the nearly 1,800 council members, signalling he is the overwhelming favourite.
But Karunanidhi did not respond to the cry. Instead he announced a two-hour lunch break and drove off to his hotel.
During Saturday evening’s executive committee meeting, at least three speakers urged Karunanidhi to give Stalin a greater role. When an Alagiri loyalist said Stalin already had an important role, he was shouted down by Stalin’s supporters.
At this juncture, Karunanidhi reportedly asked the executive: “Do you want to create a rift between me and Stalin? If you want I will step aside.”
As if on cue, two of the DMK chief’s trusted lieutenants rushed to his support and declared he would continue as the undisputed leader of the party. “There is no DMK without Kalaignar and he will be our leader during his lifetime,” party general secretary K. Anbazhagan said.
There were no cries of anguish from the rest of the executive over Karunanidhi’s offer to step aside, which could be an indication that many in the DMK want a younger and more energetic leader to take over from Karunanidhi if and when he chose to retire.
“Where is the need for the general council to reaffirm its faith in Karunanidhi’s leadership when no one (has) ever disputed it? We are only asking him to name someone to lead the party in the future so there will be no confusion later. Karunanidhi knows very well that 90 per cent of the cadres want Stalin to succeed him. But pressures from within the family — Alagiri and Kanimozhi’s mother Rajathi — are holding him back. He is scared that the family would split if he names Stalin his successor,” a DMK leader explained.
Although party leaders want Stalin to take over effective command, they also want Karunanidhi to play an advisory role.

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