DMK chief MK Stalin’s recent order to use only the photographs of Periyar, CN Annadurai, M Karunanidhi and himself on the party’s poll campaign posters is being translated as a snub to his son Udhayanidhi.
As per Stalin’s latest orders, Udhayanidhi, who was appointed the party’s youth wing chief in 2019, will not find himself on the party’s posters, reportedly because of his alleged high-handed behaviour in taking key decisions pertaining to the party, without taking senior leaders into confidence.
In a recent example, the actor-turned-politician during the appointment of youth wing secretaries for districts, allegedly gave preference to people close to him and did not consult with the senior leaders of the district. He also allegedly interfered in the appointment of district secretaries of the party by replacing senior leaders.
In Namakkal district, Rajeshkumar, who was serving as the district secretary of the party’s youth wing, was promoted as the district secretary for Namakkal (East) district. Similarly, Anvil Mahesh who served as state deputy secretary of youth wing, was appointed as Trichy (South) district’s secretary. After J Anbalagan’s death, the Chennai (West) district post was given to N Chitrarasu. Outraged by this, KK Selvam, a senior leader and sitting MLA from Thousand Lights constituency exited the party in August and joined the BJP. It is said that Selvam had nurtured hopes to become the next district secretary after Anbalagan, which were put paid due to Udhayanidhi’s alleged interference.
In a video conference held in September, Udhayanidhi had also demanded the party leadership to allocate more seats to youth wing secretaries in the upcoming assembly elections. Senior leaders were concerned that any such allocation may create a situation where they will be pitted against young cadres to bag party tickets for the Assembly seats.
According to sources, DMK’s poll strategist Prashant Kishore’s team which investigated the internal discontentment among party leaders, in its report suggested that the party should keep itself from giving much importance to Udhayanidhi and not give him a ticket in the upcoming state polls.
Sources said, with Amit Shah accusing the DMK of promoting dynasty politics during his visit to Tamil Nadu, it was time Stalin took the bold decision to cut Udhayanidhi to size and shut naysayers.
In contrast to Udhayanidhi, Stalin had climbed the party rungs, beginning his political career as an ordinary cadre and did every party related job – from pasting posters on city walls to organising agitations. He shouldered the responsibility of the youth wing for 35 years, served as a Mayor and became a deputy chief minister in 2009 before succeeding his father as the party’s chief. But Udhayanidhi lacks such a track record.
Udhayanidhi is also said to have jumped the gun many a time. While DMK’s party general secretary Duraimurugan is rumoured to be trying to strike an alliance with the PMK, none of the senior leaders have publicly spoken about this. But, while campaigning at Ariyalur district on December 22, Udhayanidhi visited the home of late PMK leader Kaduvetti Guru and met his family. This was seen as a clear sign of jumping the gun by the youth leader.
At this juncture, Stalin’s indirect order not to use the picture of Udhayanidhi in party posters is being seen as the first step towards clipping his wings.
Rajya Sabha MP and DMK’s organising secretary RS Bharathi, however, refutes the claim.
“I had passed the order, and not Stalin. Using more photos in posters creates unnecessary problems. Even an ordinary office bearer feels hurt if his photo or his leader’s photo is not used. Also, using photo of functionaries who are not prominent creates confusion among the public. So, we have decided to stick to the four leaders. It is not the first time the party passed such an order. It was in practice even when Kalaignar (Karunanidhi) headed the party,” he said.
When asked about the importance given to Udhayanidhi, he said there was nothing wrong in giving him credit for his crowd-pulling image.
“It is the second line of leaders who should get disappointed if there is any dissatisfaction with Udhayanidhi. But they are the ones taking him to their districts because it is for him that the crowd gathers. Then how can be they disappointed?” asked Bharathi.
Refuting all charges against Udhayanidhi, a youth wing state deputy secretary that The Federal spoke to said everyone in the party has accepted him as a leader.
Referring to Udhayanidhi’s visit to the house of PMK leader Kaduvetti Guru, advocate and political observer Ashok said the youth wing chief’s visit came only after Guru’s son Kanal Arasu called on Udhayanidhi in October.
“Given the fact that the DMK owns considerable Vanniyar votes, there is nothing wrong in Udhayanidhi visiting Guru’s home. Secondly, when it comes to importance given to him, the DMK has projected Udhayanidhi in the Lok Sabha elections and that brought new vigour among the cadres. It has helped the party too,” he said.
However, it is doubtful if the same projection will help in assembly elections as it involves caste and in-party fights, he added.
“At a time when he is demanding at least 50 seats for youth wing representatives, how he is going to face the task of tackling the caste factor and convincing the senior leadership is yet to be seen,” Ashok added.