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With the elevation of Kanimozhi as the DMK deputy general secretary, party president and Chief Minister MK Stalin has put an end to accusations of obstructing his step sister’s growth with a view to promote his son Udhayanidhi Stalin as the party heir.
Though Kanimozhi is also one of the family members, her elevation is seen as an inevitable move and foregone conclusion after the quitting of former minister Subbulakshmi Jagadeesan, who was holding the post. Ever since Udhayanidhi’s entry into politics, both the AIADMK and BJP is portraying the DMK as a family party passing the leadership mantle from father to son and then to the grandson as if in a monarchy.
Till now, both Kanimozhi and Udhayanidhi were the leaders of one of the wings of the party. Kanimozhi’s elevation means that she has gone up the ladder to one of the key posts in the party headquarters, while Udhayanidhi remains stagnant leading one of the party wings. With this, Kanimozhi’s chances of succeeding as the DMK leader are brighter than that of Udhayanidhi, who has one foot in cinema and another in politics.
Though Kanimozhi is also one of the family members, her elevation is seen as an inevitable move and foregone conclusion after the quitting of former minister Subbulakshmi Jagadeesan, who was holding the post
A decade ago, Kanimozhi was associated with the DMK’s defeat in the 2011 Assembly elections due to the allegations of her involvement in the 2G scandal. But she has bounced back now in full force, it seems. Though she entered the Rajya Sabha as early as 2007, her career graph rose only after January 2018 when she was acquitted in the 2G case.
In 2019 Parliament elections, she contested from Tuticorin and defeated BJP’s Tamilisai Soundarrajan by a huge margin of around 3.47 lakh votes. There was a suggestion to make her South Zone in-charge during the 2021 Assembly elections, but she was not given such a post. The DMK leadership gave more importance to Udhayanidhi Stalin, who campaigned throughout the State. The DMK was expected to sweep the Assembly polls, but the AIADMK performed better than expected, despite the young leader’s campaign.
Reports of rivalry between Kanimozhi and Udhayanidhi surfaced when women members were admitted to the youth wing during the Coimbatore youth wing conference in December last year. There was a proposal to admit women below the age of 35 into the youth wing headed by Udhayanidhi, which was stiffly opposed by Kanimozhi. Finally, the proposal was rejected by the party leadership, a decision which reversed the fortunes in favour of the woman leader.
Stalin has apparently turned a deaf ear to pleas by Udhaynidhi supporters to make him a minister, since his son was not prepared to stop acting in films. Since playing two roles simultaneously would create a conflict of interest and legal hurdles, senior leaders of the party were against his appointment.
While Kanimozhi makes her presence felt through social media remarks opposing the BJP, her nephew avoids any harsh comments against the saffron brigade
The youth wing leader has restricted himself to functioning as an MLA of Chepauk-Triplicane constituency. He is taking efforts to nurture the constituency and is often seen there. But Chepauk-Triplicane is a DMK bastion and is more a safe seat for him than a testing ground.
While Kanimozhi makes her presence felt through social media remarks opposing the BJP, her nephew avoids any harsh comments against the saffron brigade. Udhayanidhi wants an image of a humane person acceptable to all rather than being a strident advocate of causes.
Also Read: Is MK Stalin secular or pseudo-secular?
In one of his speeches Udhayanidhi said he would be happy if people addressed him as ‘Chinnavar’ (young man), a nickname for matinee idol MG Ramachandran in the Tamil film industry. His aspirations of building an image similar to MGR may sound far-fetched since MGR’s career graph in cinema and politics has not been replicated by anyone, not even Rajinikanth.
Forty-five-year old Udayanidhi’s oratorical trademark is the use of simple language, which is a departure from DMK traditions. But he probably believes that will connect him to the masses. If Kanimozhi speaks about transgender rights in Parliament, Udhayanidhi would speak on the same subject for hours in the Assembly, but he does not share his aunt’s inclinations towards Tamil literature.
Compared to Udhayanidhi, his aunt’s bold ideological approach brings the spotlight on her. She is also close to the parent body, the Dravidar Kazhagam. She cultivates media personnel and can count many English language journalists as friends and sympathizers.
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