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Muthuvel Karunanidhi Stalin - The 68-year-old Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) leader who has been waiting for a position of power for decades has finally been elected as the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu.
The DMK-led alliance (Secular Progressive Alliance) won the 2021 Tamil Nadu Assembly election with a degree of comfort (157 to the rival grouping’s 77).
Head of the DMK youth wing, mayor of Chennai, deputy chief minister, opposition leader, DMK president...MK Stalin, the political heir of Karunanidhi has been ‘a leader in waiting’.
While his father used to lockhorns with J Jayalalithaa of All India Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK), Stalin fought against All Indian Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) led by Edappadi K Palaniswami.
The Quint ‘untiffins’ the DMK leader, party ideology, political legacy and ambitions.
What is in a Name?
Muthuvel Karunanidhi Stalin is the second son of the DMK supremo Karunanidhi.
Karunanidhi wanted to call his son Ayyadurai, because the leader of the Dravidian movement Periyar EV Ramasamy was called Ayya, and Durai was the name of CN Annadurai, the former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister.
However, on the day of his son’s birth, Karunanidhi attended a condolence meeting for the Russian Communist leader Joseph Stalin. He then named his son Stalin. Interestingly, all other children of Karunanidhi – MK Muthu, MK Alagiri, MK Tamilarasu, Selvi and Kanimozhi – have traditional Tamil names.
A Movement for Social Justice
DMK has always fashioned itself as a movement for social justice and Tamil pride, especially for the language. The rationalism and tinge of separatism that once characterised the party have now been given a quiet burial.
This election, DMK contested in an alliance with old-time partners Congress, Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK) and other smaller parties.
Udhayanidhi Stalin, son of MK Stalin and the youth wing head of the party, made his debut this election and emerged victorious in the Chepauk-Tiruvellikeni constutuency, where Karunanidhi had contested and won several times.
DMK, that has been out of power for 10 years, made a slew of promises in terms of infrastructure, development, job creation and industrialisation. Looks like Stalin’s flavourful pandhi (feast) did become a hit with the people of Tamil Nadu?
(This article was originally published on 27 March 2021 and has been reposted from The Quint archives.)