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Stage set for Stalin to step into the limelight
December 14, 2007 13:47 IST
Last Updated: December 14, 2007 14:43 IST
Amid intense speculation that Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi would name his son M K Stalin as his political successor, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam's youth wing is organising a two-day conference in Tirunelveli from Saturday.
Karunanidhi is expected to give a clue about what he thinks if not directly crown his son at the state-level conference, DMK sources said.
In charge of the local administration and the water supply portfolios, Stalin, 54, has carved a niche for himself by taking quick decisions in his ministry by approving various projects, they said.
He also toured almost all the districts in the state ever since the party came to power two years back and interacted with local party officials and panchayat presidents, officers and people's representatives.
Stalin, who has been heading the youth wing since 1980, when it was officially launched at Madurai, had been made the deputy general secretary of the party two years back.
Started as a small youth club by Stalin at a barber shop near his house at Gopalapuram in Chennai three decades ago, the youth wing had grown as a strong arm of the party. The party high command, for the first time in its 59-year history, had permitted a wing of the party to have its own conference. It is being organised amid reports that actor-turned politician Vijaykant, whose party DMDK got eight per cent votes in the last assembly elections, is attracting the youth in the age group of 18-30, which constitute over 40 per cent of the electorate in the state.
Therefore, the DMK leadership thought it fit to target this segment. A massive pandal to accommodate over 10 lakh people had been put up in the Palayamkottai Medical College grounds, the venue of the conference. Opposition Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam has opposed the conference being held in the college grounds, saying it would damage the college grounds and affect the students. It has also alleged that buses would be diverted for carrying party workers and would affect commuters.
The conference would be preceded by a rally by the youth wing on December 15 to showcase their strength. DMK had chosen the town as the venue as it had fared well in the last assembly elections in the southern region, considered a stronghold of the AIADMK.
In a bid to make the conference a grand show, Stalin had been undertaking a whirlwind tour of the state to enthuse the youth and ensure maximum attendance for the event. Senior leaders were competing with each other to welcome Stalin during the tour. Witnessing the senior leaders taking the centre stage in the meetings held by Stalin, Karunanidhi had said it would be appropriate for them if they leave the stage and give way to the youth "to come up in the ladder". Karunanidhi's advice had a telling effect as party strongman in the western districts and minister Veerapandi S Arumugam refused to come on to the stage at the consultative meeting held at his hometown Salem recently.
However, Stalin compelled him to take the stage. While usually senior leaders hoist the party flag in such conferences to mark the beginning, the DMK chief had selected a new entrant to politics, Tamizhachi Thangapandiyan to do so here.
A poet and daughter of senior DMK leader late Thagapandiyan, she had resigned as an English professor in a government college to plunge into politics. Tamizhachi, whose brother Thangam Tennarrasu is a minister in the Karunanidhi cabinet, had of late become a close companion of Karunanidhi's daughter Kanimozhi, an MP.
The party has also avoided fielding senior leaders to speak at the conference with an aim to give youth wing activists a chance. Karunanidhi, Anbazhagan and Stalin are the only senior leaders listed to address the conference.
2 injured as ad balloon explodes:
An advertisement balloon of the DMK youth wing conference and a hydrogen cylinder exploded, injuring two people in Tirunelveli, the police said.
The explosions took place when hydrogen was being filled into the balloon from the cylinder at Vennarapettai in Tirunelveli, police said. Karthik, 19, and Ramesh, 30, hailing from Porur and Pattabiramam near Chennai respectively, were injured and admitted to the government hospital in Tirunelveli.