Azhagiri set to challenge Stalin for DMK top job

Party would decide change in leadership, says MK

Azhagiri set to challenge Stalin for DMK top job

His announcement came just a day after Karunanidhi's damage-containment, in an interview to the Tamil bi-weekly, "Nakkeeran", that only the party could decide and effect any change in its leadership and it could not be pushed by the whims and fancies of individuals.

The succession row had recently resurfaced in the wake of Azhagiri's remarks to another Tamil News Weekly last week that he would not be able to accept anyone else as his leader in a post-Karunanidhi scenario, and that he did not think there was anybody else in the party who could match "Kalaignar's leadership capabilities".

Those remarks, made hours before Azhagiri left for an official tour of Australia and New Zealand, was seen in political circles here as an indiscreet outburst and had come a day after a Tamil edition of a National magazine projected the "accomplishments" of Stalin, including his highly successful poll campaigns.
Azhagiri, who returned from abroad on Wednesday night called on his parents on

Thursday, but could hardly repress his feelings when asked about the leadership by a section of the press before he flew to Madurai. Though he endorsed Karunanidhi's views that the party would decide the leader, Azhagiri added that there was nothing to warrant such a situation now as "Kalaignar is giving a good government in Tamil Nadu."

But, "in future, if there is a race for the party's top leadership post, then I will contest," Azhagiri said, hinting that the leadership question in the DMK is far from settled.  The declaration is certain to aggravate the internal feud between Azhagiri and his Chennai-based younger brother M K Stalin, who is thought as the likely successor to the Chief Minister's position after Karunanidhi's retirement.

Though Azhagiri has been a late entrant into DMK party politics and is presently the party's south zone organising secretary, he has played a key role in the DMK's revival in the southern districts of Tamil Nadu, where its main rival, the AIADMK, has traditionally been very strong.

This, sources say, was seen during the 2006 Assembly elections and the 2009 Lok Sabha polls, making Azhagiri the "unquestioned party boss" in the South. On the other hand, Stalin's image has been steadily on the rise as an independent campaigner and as a "hard working" deputy chief minister, ensuring that all the welfare schemes reached the people.

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