Family feud within DMK
The street fight in Tamil Nadu between two of the sons of DMK supremo M Karunanidhi has all the ingredients, short of the fratricides witnessed in the Mughal courts of yore involving Emperor Humayun and his brothers and Emperor Aurangzeb killing three of his brothers, especially the much admired Dara Shikoh.
The conflict in the DMK involving M Alagiri (also spelt Azhagiri) and his younger brother M Stalin is the concomitant of the politics of nepotism promoted by Karunanidhi, while in and out of power. He has never looked beyond his extended dynasty and the cause of Tamilians or the so-called Dravidians not to speak of those of the nation and Indians come down the order in his scheme of things of this one time Tamil film script writer.
As in the days of the Mughals, Alagiri and Stalin are in a hurry to step into the shoes of their ailing and ageing father Karunanidhi, who is active in political intrigues though nearing the age of 90. One can imagine what will happen to the DMK once Karunanidhi departs. However let us wish him many more happy years to enliven politics in the country with controversies and to multiply his dynasty’s assets amassed in the name of Dravidians, Tamils, Tamil Nadu and anti-Brahminism.
At the core of the eruption in the DMK leading to the suspension of Alagiri from the Party is the intense hatred between him and his brother Stalin. What is intriguing is that they both are the children of the same mother. Their mother Dayalu is the second wife of Karunanidhi. The DMK chief has married three times. His first wife Padmavathi died young leaving behind a son MK Muthu, whose name is not being heard in public life for long. Karunanidhi’s third wife is Rajathi Ammal and her daughter is the overambitious Kanimozhi, who spent months in jail as an undertrial in the 2G Spectrum case.
As matters stand today Stalin, former deputy Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu and Mayor of Chennai is the favourite of Karunanidhi and the sophisticated Kanimozhi comes next. Karunanidhi appears to be totally disillusioned with Alagiri going by what he told a press conference in Chennai on January 28. He has implied that Alagiri held out a threat to the life of Stalin by saying that he would die in the next three or four months. Karunanidhi seems to be shattered by those ‘cruel remarks’ against his beloved son.
In true Mughal style, Karunanidhi appointed Alagiri as Party’s ‘Viceroy’ for southern Tamil Nadu with headquarters in Madurai. He was made the Party’s coordinator for the South. Later Stalin came to be named the heir apparent. Alagiri did not allow any interference from Chennai. There are however good reasons as to why Karunanidhi prefers Stalin and not Alagiri. Though a good number of DMK leaders have a record of criminality, Alagiri stands out in the brigade for his notoriety and ruthlessness. He depends more on the brawn than his brain. The most serious criminal case against him dates back to 2003 when he was arrested in connection with the murder of a former DMK minister Pasumpon T Kiruttinan in Madurai. He was on his morning constitutional, when he was brutally murdered. The Supreme Court transferred the case from the Madurai courts to a session’s court in neighbouring Andhra Pradesh- Chittoor District and Sessions Court. But in 2008, the Chittoor court acquitted Alagiri.
In May 2006, Alagiri was blamed for the attack on the offices of the Tamil newspaper Dinakaran in Madurai owned by Kalanithi Maran, a close relative of Karunanidhi, the newspaper had carried the report of a survey showing that MK Stalin was much more popular than MK Alagiri. Incensed by the report, goons supporting Alagiri threw fire bombs at the newspaper office and three of its employees were killed. The case was investigated by the CBI but ended in the acquittal of all the accused. Alagiri’s innings as Union Minister for Chemicals and Fertilisers proved to be a disaster and a farce. He came to be accused of Rs 1000 crore scandal in fertiliser distribution.
The Karunanidhi dynasty has amassed vast wealth and has used its political clout to have a big say in Tamil cinema and television networks. So is the case with the Marans and Murasoli Maran was a nephew of Karunanidhi. Karunanidhi has also prevented other DMK leaders from emerging as rivals to his sons, especially Stalin. The most talented of the DMK leaders, Vaiko (real name V Gopalasamy) had to quit the party as he was perceived as a rival of Stalin. He has since founded his own party, Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam.
Politician fathers playing the game of favourites is in full evidence in the Deve Gowda dynasty of Karnataka which owns the Janata Dal (Secular) Party. HD Deve Gowda promoted his third son HD Kumaraswamy and made him the Chief Minister. Gowda’s second son HD Revanna had to content with being a minister under Kumaraswamy. Gowda’s eldest son who was a Karnataka Administrative Service officer quit the service and is facing a criminal case relating to acquisition of illegal assets. The Karunanidhi and Deve Gowda dynasties have other parallels too.
AP Assembly rejects Telangana Bill
N Nagaraja Rao, Hyderabad
In a major embarrassment for the Congress party, Chief Minister Kiran Kumar Reddy’s resolution to reject the Bill was passed through a voice vote. The assembly rejected the Bill to create Telangana saying it “ignored the very basis of creating Andhra Pradesh.”The matter now goes back to President Pranab Mukherjee who will refer it to the Parliament for discussion and vote in the session that starts on February 5.
The debate on the AP Reorganisation Bill-2013 ended with the deadline set by the President, amid “violent” protests Speaker Nadendla Manohar put the resolution, proposed by Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy rejecting the Bill, to vote.
Capping an acrimonious debate and ending the pandemonium the House was stuck , Speaker N Manohar put the resolution to vote and announced that it was “passed”. The assembly was immediately adjourned sine die. “The House while rejecting the AP Re organisation Bill, 2013, resolves to request the President not to recommend it for introduction in Parliament as the Bill seeks to bifurcate the State of Andhra Pradesh without any reason and without arriving at a consensus, in utter disregard to the linguistic and cultural homogeneity and economic and administrative viability of both regions”, the resolution said. “The Bill also completely ignores the very basis of formation of State of Andhra Pradesh, the first linguistic state created in Independent India”, it said. The speaker said since the government resolution has been approved, he saw no reason to take up the private resolutions moved by other members on the same issue. The speaker said that all views expressed by members on the Bill would be sent to the President along with the resolution.
The deadline for the Assembly to pass or reject the Bill and send its opinion to the President was due to expire January 30. The Chief Minister had earlier threatened to quit politics if the Telangana Bill is passed in Parliament. Reddy is strongly opposed to the state’s bifurcation. Earlier, the protest by legislators from Telangana cutting across party lines for last four days has brought the debate on Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Bill 2013 to a halt. Meanwhile a day-long shutdown in Rayalaseema and coastal Andhra regions of Andhra Pradesh to protest state’s bifurcation hit normal life.
Earlier, Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy dared the Centre to table the T Bill in its present form in Parliament and vowed to quit politics if it did so. Upping the ante on the penultimate day of the Assembly session, he said, “I challenge those, who say that the bill sent to the Assembly is the final one, to introduce it in Parliament as it is. If they can, I am ready to quit politics forever.”Apparently taking a dig at Union Minister Jairam Ramesh for his comments that the Bill was fine.
Political Analysts say the very rejection of the Bill is basically symbolic as the Chief Minister is seen to be ensuring his political future and like to be seen as a champion of the United Andhra cause, technically Assembly’s vote does not matter. The rejection poses a moral question for the Centre and the President. It is now the President’s prerogative to clear the bill for discussion and vote in Parliament. Also now the ball is in the Centre’s court and needless to say that the ruling party will also find it hard to muster support among other parties to push the Bill through.
This is the last time that Parliament will meet before the national elections, so if the Telangana proposal is not cleared, Andhra Pradesh will be undivided for the national polls. That will rescue politicians like the Chief Minister who belong to the non-Telangana regions of Rayalaseema and Coastal Andhra, which will form the residuary state. A Group of Ministers will meet on February 4 to discuss the road ahead after the Bill is returned by Andhra Pradesh. The moot question is Will Telangana emerge before the general elections?
Notwithstanding the confidence of the Telangana leaders, the Bill faces the risk of running into legal and constitutional hurdles. Those opposing it point out that provisions like continuing article 371 (D) in both the states requires a Constitution amendment. They also claim that the Bill has several lacunae. Recently BJP has also dropped hints that its support to the Bill is not without riders. BJP leadership is now saying that the Government can’t move ahead on the issue without addressing the concerns of the Seemandhra people. He is likely to tie-up with the BJP in the coming Lok Sabha and Assembly elections. The TRS, the pro-Telangana party of K Chandrashekar Rao, has warned the Centre of dire consequences if the new state is not created before the Lok Sabha polls. Andhra Pradesh is going to see both Assembly and Lok Sabha elections held simultaneously in the next three months. Thus the uncertainty continues.