M. K. STALIN THE DRAViDIAN INHERITOR
M.K. Stalin, the president of DMK, took oath as the new Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu thus ending the decade long AIADMK rule. In the first election after the demise of the oratory giant Karunanidhi and glamorous and popular lady Jayalalithaa people preferred the DMK. There was not much to choose, ideologically, between the two Dravidian parties. Both paly to the electoral gallery through Tamil language fanaticism and both rely on freebies to reach the people. So Tamil voters prefer alternatively between DMK and AIADMK basing on the benefits offered on the competitive populism. This time around their preference is DMK.
DMK has many firsts in its over seven decade old political existence. It is the first regional party which overthrew the Congress and set the trend for other regional political parties in many ways. It was the first party which laid the freebie road to ride to power. It is the first party which set the trend for family control over the party. It was the same party which institutionalized the control on the media including the electronic media and also corruption in public life. The language bordering obscenity was also introduced in to the campaign by DMK party only. Unfortunately they never regretted for what they did for the polity but continued with that vulgar language campaign even in 2021 campaign and won the election.
Now that Stalin is in the CM chair it is pertinent to go through his political steps and his experience as a new raising star of the Tamil Nadu. Stalin is not as young despite his projection as young inheritor of political legacy. At 68 he may be young politically and that was the age for retirement in any other profession. But his father’s longevity has forced him to wait his chance though he is quoted to be in politics since 1967 elections. In that election, regional party DMK shocked national party Congress and captured power in Tamil Nadu. Stalin as a 14 year old boy reportedly campaigned for his uncle Maran in Chennai. As a 22 year old Stalin was arrested by Indira Gandhi regime during the emergency and sent him to jail. Stalin learnt the politics of cut throat in the fight with Congress where his father Karunanidhi was slapped f two serious charges of burning the copy of Indian constitution and another serious case of attempt to murder then PM Indira Gandhi. He also saw the authoritarian Indira Gandhi dismissing Karunanidhi government and imposing president’s rule. But for the last minute withdrawal of charges, Karunanidhi would have gone to jail. Then again DMK faced a crisis when Congress party suspected DMK’s role in Rajiv Gandhi murder. The needle of suspicion was thrown on DMK by Congress party’s first family. It is a different matter that Congress formed a coalition at Centre in 2004 with DMK’s support and continued to remain an ally in Tamil Nadu politics. That politics which is self-labelled as ‘pragmatic’ and called as ‘opportunistic’ by the opponents continued even now. Stalin is now an admirer of Congress and its leader Rahul Gandhi. Recent call of Stalin to Congress and Rahul Gandhi to lead anti BJP grand coalition at the Centre is an indication for that.
Stalin was groomed as a successor by Karunanidhi was never in doubt. The party which was born by questioning the hegemony of certain social groups in the state was cleverly manipulated to accept the family control on the party and the family inheritance of the leadership. Karunanidhi took almost two decade planning to anoint Stalin in the top position. During Karunanidhi reign Stalin was made the Mayor of Chennai, then a minister and then deputy CM, thus completing the training in politics and administration. Even in party hierarchy the road was cleared for Stalin. He was designated as general secretary and then working president. The father saw the need for authority to vest in one person, a typical thought of all regional parties and that person should be from the family. Karunanidhi, a firm believer of authority and suppressor of dissent within the party, systematically distanced his elder son M.K. Alagiri and convinced his daughter, through second wife, Kanimozhi to accept her sibling as the leaders and promised to protect her interest in politics and business. Stalin, unlike his father, doesn’t like to wait any longer for naming the successor. In the very first election under his presidency, Stalin gave ticket to his son Udayanidhi Maran and though he is not taken into the cabinet now every party member know that it this third generation leader who will be the eyes and ears of Stalin in party and government. Udayanidhi’s ascendancy in party is assured and in government is will be in near future and there is no doubt about it.
As M.K. Stalin settles in office of the CM what the Tamil intellectuals discuss is whether he is going to end personalized vindictive political style which his father Karunanidhi and AIADMK supremo Jayalaithaa is known for. The second issue that is topping the minds is the style of governance Stalin is going to choose. Tamils pride of good administrative culture which they inherited from British and then followed by then Congress CMs C. Rajaji and Kamaraj Nadar and very short lived Annadurai rule of DMK. They all know that Tamil Nadu is no more a well ruled state and DMK is also responsible for that deteriorated governance. Money power took over the elections after the first split of DMK. To fight charismatic M.G.R., who formed his own AIADMK after splitting DMK, Karunanidhi was forced to induce money to retain the cadre and middle level leaders. It got stratified and more and more was needed to run the party. The party leadership built up an innovative methods for extraction of money. This private gain through an institutionalized system enriched the leaders of the DMK at all levels. It was money politics all through and each candidate earned his ticket for the elections by sharing the booty he had collected. Whether Stalin will dismantle illicit edifice or continue to strengthen that by adding other methods is to be seen.
On the political front Stalin has to face the Hindutva as a new trend in the Tamil politics. Tamils are religious but are not for Hindutva brand of politics. Though BJP is a minor player, with four members in the assembly after two decades of no representation the RSS is growing in the state. This is because of the unbridled Christian conversion activities. Unless that is checked by the new regime the friction in the rural areas is bound to escalate. Stalin may have move in a very cautious way in the first year as the first impression is the best impression in any field.