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Fight for Karunanidhi's legacy continues, MK Alagiri plans to erect bronze statue of ex-DMK chief

Alagiri has sought permission from Madurai District Collector to erect a bronze statue of Karunanidhi in the Madurai city.

Fight for Karunanidhi's legacy continues, MK Alagiri plans to erect bronze statue of ex-DMK chief

CHENNAI: MK Alagiri, the expelled DMK leader and brother of DMK chief MK Stalin, is planning to erect a bronze statue of later party founder M Karunanidhi in the Madurai city.

According to ANI, Alagiri has written a letter to Madurai District Collector and Commissioner seeking permission to erect a bronze statue in the Madurai city.

The move is seen as yet another attempt by Alagiri to stake claim to his late iconic father's political legacy. Though the national executive of the party had recently elected Alagiri's younger brother MK Stalin as the new party chief, the succession war in the southern party is far from over.

On September 5, Alagiri had led a rally of his supporters in a show of strength to the mausoleum of his late father and DMK patriarch M Karunanidhi at the Marina Beach in Chennai.

Dressed in black, to condole M Karunanidhi's death, the rally began from Triplicane.

After walking for a while, Alagiri hopped on to an open van, waving enthusiastically to cheer his cadres.

The expelled leader's followers from various districts held banners, which read "karam korpom kazhagam kappom,' (let us join hands and guard the party).

The former Union minister's loyalists, including Madurai-based PM Mannan, took part in the rally.

Days ahead of the rally, Alagiri, locked in a running feud with Stalin over succession, had made a climbdown and said he was ready to accept his younger sibling as his leader if the party re-inducted him.

The Karunanidhi family projected a united picture when the DMK chief was fighting a battle for life in a Chennai hospital for 11 days before his death on August 7.

However, days after his death the bitter succession war erupted again with Alagiri claiming "all true and loyal supporters of Kalaignar" were with him.

Alagiri, who was leading a life of political exile in Madurai away from media glare, had even warned that the DMK will dig its own "grave" if it did not take him back.

However, Stalin's election as DMK president on August 28 apparently made Alagiri rethink his plans and end political grandstanding.

Sending out a signal that he was prepared to bury the hatchet just two days after Stalin's elevation, Alagiri said he was ready to accept the leadership of his younger brother if he was readmitted into the party.

"When we desire to be inducted into the party, we must then accept the (Stalin's) leadership. Isn't it?" Alagiri had told reporters.

He, however, blew hot and cold and seemed to question Stalin's elevation in the same breath.

"Is the general council alone the party? Do 1,500 members of the council alone represent the DMK? The cadres are on my side. After next month's rally more will come to my side," he said.

Before his expulsion at the height of his succession battle with his brother, Alagiri, known for his mercurial temper, had famously questioned if the DMK was a "mutt" where the pontiff could anoint his successor, an apparent reference to their father.

Though Alagiri was effectively out of politics since his expulsion, few had any doubt about the leader trying to reclaim the space he once had in Tamil Nadu politics after his father's death.

Former Union minister Alagiri, who wielded considerable clout in the southern districts of Tamil Nadu as the DMK organisation secretary for the region, was expelled from the party by his father and the then DMK boss Karunanidhi in 2014 at the height of the siblings' tussle for supremacy.

The DMK had failed to open its account in the last Lok Sabha elections in 2014 and lost to the AIADMK in the assembly polls in 2016 when Stalin helmed the campaign after Karunanidhi began keeping indifferent health.

In case of no truce between the two warring brothers, the open rebellion by Alagiri may upset MK Stalin's plan to revive the party.