‘Untiffining’ MK Stalin: The TN Leader in Waiting

Stalin is offering the people of Tamil Nadu a rich and varied election platter. 

Published
Tamil Nadu
3 min read

Video Editor: Puneet Bhatia
Cameraperson: Praveen Annamalai
Producer: Smitha TK

The 68-year-old Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) leader MK Stalin has been waiting for a position of power for decades now. It was not until 2018, just before the demise of his father and veteran leader Kalaignar Karunanidhi, that he was officially declared the president of the party.

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’. In 2021 Assembly elections, he is eyeing the big prize: Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu.

While his father used to lockhorns with J Jayalalithaa of All India Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK), on 6 April Stalin will fight AIADMK led by Edappadi K Palaniswami.
The Quint ‘untiffins’ the DMK leader, party ideology, political legacy and ambitions.

What is in a Name?

A young Stalin campaigns in the 1980s.
A young Stalin campaigns in the 1980s.
(Photo: Accessed by The Quint)

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 veteran leader Karunanidhi with his son MK Stalin
DMK veteran leader Karunanidhi with his son MK Stalin
(Photo: Accessed by The Quint)

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.

MK Stalin and Congress President Rahul Gandhi are said to be on good terms.
MK Stalin and Congress President Rahul Gandhi are said to be on good terms.
(Photo: Accessed by The Quint)

This election, DMK is contesting in an alliance with old-time partners Congress, Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi and other smaller parties.

Udhayanidhi Stalin, son of MK Stalin and the youth wing head of the party will make his election debut. He is contesting from Chepauk-Tiruvellikeni, where Karunanidhi had contested and won several times.

DMK President Stalin with his son Udhayanidhi Stalin
DMK President Stalin with his son Udhayanidhi Stalin
(Photo: Accessed by The Quint)

DMK, that has been out of power for 10 years, has made a slew of promises in terms of infrastructure, development, job creation and industrialisation. Will Stalin’s flavourful pandhi (feast) be a hit or a miss with the people of Tamil Nadu?

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