Tiruvarur bypolls to be DMK’s acid test

DMK president M K Stalin. PTI

DMK’s new president M K Stalin will face his first acid test when Tiruvarur constituency represented by his father the late M Karunanidhi goes to bypolls on January 28.

The stakes are high for the DMK since Tiruvarur is Karunanidhi’s native place and he represented the constituency from 2011 till he breathed his last on August 7, last year.

Poised to face a double-barrel attack from the AIADMK and rebel faction led by T T V Dhinakaran, Stalin and his aides are burning the midnight oil to choose the “right person” to succeed Karunanidhi as MLA from Tiruvarur in the Cauvery delta region.

Another major challenge for Stalin might come from none other than his elder brother M K Azhagiri, the rebel within the DMK’s first family, who could either enter the fray himself or play spoilsport by campaigning against the party’s candidate.

Also, Dhinakaran, who hails from near-by Mannargudi, has been criss-crossing the district which was affected due to the Cyclone Gaja.

Political analysts say that Stalin must ensure harmony in the family to win Tiruvarur hands down since all other factors are completely in favour of the DMK— the party or its allies have won the constituency except for once since 1984 and the family has immense goodwill among the people.

Karunanidhi romped home in 2016 by a margin of over 66,000 votes.

Though Stalin has so far resisted from getting tempted at the suggestion by senior party leaders that he enter the fray from Tiruvarur to “claim his father’s legacy”, the DMK is seriously considering fielding a family member since it would not just help woo the voters but also ensure that Alagiri is neutralised or nominating a senior leader of the party like former Union minister T R Baalu.

If the party decides to field someone from the family, it would either be Selvi or M K Thamizharasu, the daughter and youngest son of Karunanidhi— which would give no room for Azhagiri to raise any rebellion.   

Azhagiri, who was expelled from the DMK in 2014 by Karunanidhi, has had a running battle with Stalin and both do not come face to face.

The rebel leader’s efforts to make a re-entry into the DMK after his father’s death was thwarted by party seniors and Stalin himself.

A resounding victory in Tiruvarur will not just enthuse the DMK cadres before the Lok Sabha polls but will also decide the alliance for the May general elections.

Political observer Prof Ramu Manivannan said that Tiruvarur bypoll is very important for the DMK since it must carry the mantle and memory of Karunanidhi to the future.

“The DMK should not just win the elections but win it comfortably. Before everything, the DMK must ensure complete harmony within the first family. I feel if there is harmony in the family, there is harmony in the DMK. Ensuring the harmony is key to the DMK’s electoral strategy,” Manivannan, Head of the Department of Politics and Public Administration, University of Madras, told DH.

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