July 08 2020
Stage set for Stalin’s coronation today
28 August 2018

50 years after he set up the Gopalapuram Youth DMK, Karunanidhi’s son prepares to take the party’s reins

When M.K. Stalin is unanimously elected president of the DMK at the party’s general council on Tuesday, it will signal his rise to the top exactly 50 years after he launched the Gopalapuram Youth DMK, a precursor to the DMK Youth Wing. He will be only the third supreme leader of the DMK, launched by C.N. Annadurai in 1949.

The Gopalapuram Youth Wing was inaugurated by party general secretary K. Anbazhagan in M. Karunanidhi’s presence in 1968.

“He along with his friends conceived the idea in a barber shop and invited Annadurai for the inauguration. But Anna could not attend as he was indisposed. Stalin’s persuasive skills made him comment: ‘You are as adamant as your father’,” recalled Govi. Lenin, a long-time DMK observer.

Originally named Ayyadurai, after Periyar E.V. Ramasamy (Ayya) and Annadurai, Karunanidhi changed his name to Stalin in honour of Russian leader Stalin, who died four days after his birth.

Though Mr. Stalin was active, enacting plays and organising screening of movies to raise funds, besides taking out rallies in support of autonomy for the State, his detention under the Maintenance of Internal Security during the Emergency earned him recognition.

In 1980, the DMK’s Youth Wing was launched. Two years later, he got to head the Youth Wing, which had by then shaped up into a well-oiled party machine.

In 1984, he unsuccessfully contested from the Thousand Lights Assembly constituency but subsequently became a legislator in 1989. He has been an MLA since 1996. Mr. Stalin’s growth agitated Vaiko, then a rising star in the DMK.

When some DMK district secretaries walked away with Vaiko in 1994, Mr. Stalin proved his mettle as an organisational man by ensuring a large turnout of youth at the DMK’s Tirunelveli conference.

His performance as Chennai’s first directly elected Mayor (1996-2001) earned him many admirers.

Mr. Stalin’s first serious attempt to emerge as a strategist in the 2001 Assembly polls, by forging an alliance with an assortment of caste outfits, came a cropper. His uncle Murasoli Maran was peeved and even announced his decision to quit active politics, only to withdraw the decision later.

He became the Local Administration Minister in 2006. In 2009, he was appointed Deputy Chief Minister.

A hard worker

“He works systematically and has inherited the trait of putting in hard work from his father. During his tenure as a minister and as Deputy Chief Minister he cleared the maximum number of files,” said former IAS officer Ashok Varadhan Shetty, who was the secretary of the Local Administration Department.

Mr. Shetty said Mr. Stalin was always ready to do field work and would listen to officials and stand by them when there was a difference of opinion with other ministers.

“He once permitted suspension of a government employee, who refused to perform election duty, even though he was a distant relative. On another occasion, he dismissed an employee though he was protected by his cabinet colleague,” recalled Mr. Shetty.

In 2017, he became the working president of the DMK.

As he prepares to step into his father’s shoes, poet Manushyaputhiran, a DMK general council member, said, “It is a natural process since there is no one in the party better qualified to hold the mantle.”



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