Stalin to succeed Karunanidhi as DMK president

DMK leaders MK Stalin and Kanimozhi stand alongside the mortal remains of their father and DMK chief M Karunanidhi at Rajaji Hall, in Chennai on Wednesday. PTI Photo

With its longest-ever president M Karunanidhi passing away, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) will soon hand over the baton to his son M K Stalin, who was identified as his political successor by the five-time chief minister himself.

That Karunanidhi's elder son M K Azhagiri, who was expelled from the DMK in 2014, might not play any role in the party, at least for now, was amply clear in the treatment that was given to him and his family at the Rajaji Hall, where the DMK chief lay in state for 12 hours.

DMK's new pecking order under Stalin's leadership was at full display through the 12 hours when a host of national and regional leaders paid their last respects to Karunanidhi.

Led by Stalin, his half-sister Kanimozhi, senior party leader Durai Murugan and former Union ministers Dayanidhi Maran, A Raja and T R Baalu stood around Karunanidhi’s body.

Azhagiri, who once controlled the DMK in nine Southern districts with an iron fist, was seated in a corner beside Karunanidhi’s body. He left Rajaji Hall in the afternoon and was one of the first to reach Marina Beach, where Karunanidhi was buried.

That things were not quite normal between the brothers even during the testing times was visible from the fact that their younger sister Selvi was seated between them at the burial site. But they stood shoulder to shoulder when Karunanidhi’s body was transferred to the sandalwood casket.

The clear indication that Stalin will lead the DMK as its new president came from Durai Murugan, who shared the happy news of the Madras High Court allowing Karunanidhi to be buried at Marina Beach besides his mentor C N Annadurai.

"Kalaignar (Karunanidhi) was a fighter all through his life. He fought even after his death and got his rightful place in the history. This is the first victory for us under Thalapathy (Stalin) and now let us all resolve to bring our party back to power (under Stalin's leadership)," he said.

Sources in the DMK said the general council of the party will soon meet and elect Stalin as the president. Though General Secretary K Anbhazhagan is vested with all powers if the President of DMK passes away, according to the party constitution, Stalin is effectively the leader since the powers of the president were given to him when he was made working president in 2017.

Karunanidhi had announced that Stalin would be his political successor more than once and it was under his command that the latter took over as DMK working president when the former fell ill in October 2016.

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Stalin to succeed Karunanidhi as DMK president

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