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Why Alagiri is southern TN's 'undisputed' leader

Last updated on: April 9, 2011 15:34 IST

Why Alagiri is southern TN's 'undisputed' leader

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Known for his organisational skills, Union Minister and party's strongman M K Alagiri shies away from open electioneering.

Coverage: Assembly election 2011 

But he is always on the move, crisscrossing southern Tamil Nadu, giving 'pep talks' to the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam cadre and pushing them to work for the party in this area bequeathed to him by DMK President and his father M Karunanidhi under an unwritten agreement.

Alagiri, whose influence extends right from Madurai to Kanyakumari at the southernmost tip of India, rarely addresses public meetings seeking votes for the DMK-Congress combine and doesn't even speak if he accompanies candidates in some of the constituencies in this temple town.

He is comfortable doing politics in his stronghold than being a minister at the Centre, holding the Chemicals and Fertilisers portfolio.

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His aides say he has always believed in the organisational structure of the party which he feels will help it win elections. That is why he does not come out in the open regularly, they said, adding he is always in touch with party leaders and cadres giving them instructions.

Ever since the campaigning for the April 13 assembly elections began in March-end in this Temple Town where Alagiri has been living for decades during which he virtually brought the party under his control, the 61-year-old elder son of the chief minister has rarely been seen in public.

Alagiri tells cadres how to reach out to the people and convince them to vote for the DMK alliance. He also instructs party cadres, during his whirlwind tour, to create awareness about the welfare schemes implemented by the DMK government in the past 5 years.



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The DMK is fighting this election on the plank of development and its "pro-people" policies.

Alagiri gets up early in the morning and begins his day by meeting party candidates of Madurai urban and rural areas and gets an update from them on the situation in their constituencies.

The aides said Alagiri is in constant touch with party secretaries in nine southern districts -- Madurai, Virudhunagar, Theni, Dindigul, Tirunelveli, Ramanathapuram, Sivaganga, Kanyakumari and Tuticorin -- and gets briefing from them on the current situation in their respective districts.

"He has travelled from Madurai to Kanyakumari visiting every district since the elections began. He meets party leaders, candidates and workers and gets to know the situation for himself. He has been crisscrossing the southern region since elections were announced," Alagiri's close aide and party's District Secretary G Thalapathi said.



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Only a couple of times, Alagiri accompanied popular Tamil comedian Vadivelu, who has been travelling across the state campaigning for DMK, on his campaign trial and was seen sitting next to his father and the Chief Minister at a public meeting in Madurai on Wednesday.

This time, Alagiri has also fielded his daughter Kayalvizhi to campaign for DMK candidates in Madurai city and some adjoining areas. Alagiri has been maintaining that the DMK will win over 200 seats in the Assembly elections with a clean sweep in the southern region.

Thalapathi, who is also the DMK candidate in Madurai (West), says Alagiri's aim is to ensure victory in all 60 seats in southern Tamil Nadu.

"He does not participate in election campaign and speak at public meeting. He keeps meeting party workers and tells them how important is to ensure the party's victory," he said.



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"There are many leaders in DMK who go out and campaign. But we need a strong organisational structure which Alagiri is focusing on...so he is always in touch with party leaders and cadres," he said.

Alagiri, who came to Madurai in 1989 to manage the Madurai edition of DMK's mouthpiece Murasoli, is now considered the "undisputed" leader of the party in southern districts and has made considerable inroads into the rural vote bank, which has always been with the AIADMK.

Political observers say his influence in southern Tamil Nadu had an effect on the prospects of the party-led combine, which won 41 of the 63 seats in the 2006 assembly elections. This actually helped the ruling combine to get an impressive lead over the AIADMK-led front.

They point out the fact that even in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections, AIADMK drew a blank in the southern region with DMK and Congress winning nine and CPI winning one seat.



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