Chennai: Amid concerns about his health condition, DMK patriarch M Karunanidhi on Thursday tactically named his younger son MK Stalin as his choice to lead the party after him.
89-year-old Karunanidhi, in a message to party cadres, made it clear that it is Stalin who will shoulder responsibilities and take his work forward. Stalin is currently DMK treasurer and youth wing secretary.
Addressing party functionaries at a function here, Karunanidhi said, “I will work for the upliftment and development of people till my last breath. For the question `what after me`, Stalin, who is seated here, is the answer, and you should not forget this.”
Over the years Stalin had moved away from the shadow of his father and has been the virtual controlling the party, however, a public acceptance by Karunanidhi that he is the number two in the party is of immense consequence.
Although Stalin was always regarded as the chosen one and the favourite to take over party reins after Karunanidhi, the DMK leadership had till now refrained from discussing the touchy succession issue.
The chief contender to Stalin is his elder brother and Union Minister MK Alagiri. Some years ago, Alagiri had said that if an election is held for the next president of the DMK, he would contest it.
Karunanidhi’s daughter MK Kanimozhi was also said to be in the running for the top post.
Given the sensitivities involved and the simmering tension, it remains to be seen whether the DMK cadre, especially those in the Alagiri camp, will support Stalin’s accession, if and when that happens.
Earlier, some media surveys had also projected Stalin as the favourite to take over from Karunanidhi.