M Karunanidhi, DMK President for 11th Time in Row
He could well be the oldest politician in the country to head a party. On Friday, DMK leader M Karunanidhi made history by being elected as DMK president for the 11th time in a row, amidst growing clamour to hand over the reins to his younger son M K Stalin. The party’s general council re-elected the 91-year-old veteran at a meeting convened at the party headquarters.
DMK’s first family maintained its stronghold on the party organization. Stalin has been reelected as party treasurer and his half-sister and Rajya Sabha MP Kanimozhi has been elevated as secretary to head the women’s wing. K Anbazhagan, one of the founding members of DMK, was unanimously reelected as general secretary.
In the run-up to the polls, there were reports that Stalin wanted to replace Azbazhagan as general secretary. However, Stalin himself denied it later. The month-long organizational elections also saw Stalin supporters gaining prominence in district units across the state.
On Friday, a thickly-packed Kalaignar Arangam erupted in joy and members applauded and raised slogans hailing the DMK patriarch when the election results were announced. Steering the Dravidian party for more than five decades, Karunanidhi has reasserted himself within the party yet again.
“He is not merely an elected leader, but one who has risen on his own. He was recognized by stalwarts Periyar and C N Annadurai,” Anbazhagan said, evoking loud cheers from the members. A close-confidante of Karunanidhi since the student days, Anbazhagan said his election was no surprise. “Who else will you elect?” he said.
Rising from the ranks, Karunanidhi went on to become party treasurer in 1961, before taking over the reins in 1969 as president, following the demise of his mentor Annadurai.