Azhagiri kills two birds with low-key wedding
The first image to come up in people's mind was a similar wedding some 14 years ago: The then chief minister J Jayalalithaa's foster son Sudhakaran's wedding, which came a few months before the assembly elections in Tamil Nadu.
One of the reasons the people of Tamil Nadu voted overwhelmingly against the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (Jayalalithaa was the only candidate to win) was because they were turned off by the conspicuous display of wealth and brazen power.
Image: The entrance to the wedding venue in Madurai
Was this the end of the DMK?
But in the end, the wedding went off so smoothly and low-key, some hardcore cadre are asking whether it wasn't too simple.
Heck, even the chief minister and groom's grandfather M Karunanidhi flew in on a scheduled Indian Airlines flight.
Image: TN Chief Minister M Karunanidhi blesses the couple
'Extreme caution was taken to not to turn off the people'
Image: Home Minister P Chidambaram blesses the couple
Normal life in Madurai was not hit by the wedding
"He called the partymen and made it clear that the first thing to take care was that there was no hassle to the general public. It was a strict order. Likewise, apart from some bottling up of traffic near the Tamukkam grounds in Madurai (the wedding venue, which is usually used for exhibitions, expos and massive political rallies) there was no problem to the people at large," said a middle-level leader, who did not want to be named.
Thus, there was no doubt that the city had been taken over, normal life was not hit.
Image: Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee with the newlyweds
Pranab's camaraderie with Karunanidhi was evident
Image: Liquor baron Vijay Mallya with the newlyweds
Azhagiri cares for his cadres
But more than these things, what seems to have been missed is how much Azhagiri is loved by the cadre and what kind of a people's person he is.
Sources very close to the family, on condition of anonimity, said about the preparations for the wedding, that the foremost thing Azhagiri had in mind was the cadre.
"For the grassroots workers, they erected dining stalls in six places in the city. There were volunteers to take care of all the workers' needs and it was a feast no less than what was served inside the wedding venue. This shows how much annan thinks about the common worker," he said.
Image: The groom, Durai Dayanidhi Azhagiri feeds his bride
'There was no special entry for VIPs'
"He told them they can collect anything from his wife's chain of clothing stores for that amount. The workers were thrilled," the source said.
(It is custom for the hosts to buy trousers, shirts, sarees or dhotis to close guests during weddings)
And the most significant gesture came at the entrance to the grounds.
"There was no special entry for VIPs and common men. I went through the same entrance through which cine stars went and the party workers entered through that same entrance. Waiting with folded hands to invite us and send us on our way in were Azhagiri and Stalin. I felt important. Then imagine how the party workers would have felt?" asked a stunned businessman who attended the wedding.
Image: Four generations of the Karunanidhi family
Azhagiri is a keen grassroots leader
Thus, not only did Azhagiri show that he is a keen student of history, he also displayed what a shrewd grassroots leader he is.
Because the truth is, the massive turnouts for Jayalaithaa's rallies have indeed worried the DMK. And Azhagiri knows very well that if the party is to have any chance in getting a second term (which has not happened in more than two decades. The state usually votes out governments after a single term) it will be up to him.
He has to deliver the south. And that will take extraordinary work at a grassroots level.
Image: Actor Rajnikanth with TN CM Karunanidhi at the wedding
The wedding has primed the workers for campaigning
"Imagine, your supreme leader has invited you to his son's wedding, where you are virtually rubbing shoulders with the who's who of not only the state, but the entire country. This is a story you will tell your grandchildren. With that in mind, fast-forward to the election time. If such a leader comes and tells you, the situation is looking tough for our party, you have to pull up your socks, imagine how this worker will react. He will do everything possible to ensure that his leader is not embarrassed."
And indeed, as day turned to night, the wedding songs that were blaring from speakers across the city were stopped. And the campaign songs began.
Image: Actor Rajnikanth at the wedding