In a clear indication of his eventual elevation in the DMK, party treasurer M.K. Stalin is all set to launch a massive State-wide outreach campaign on September 25, as a precursor to the electoral battle in 2016.Christened Namakku Naame, the program will see Mr. Stalin touring all 234 Assembly constituencies in the State to interact with party members and the public.
A statement on Thursday said he will elicit the views of people to incorporate them in the DMK election manifesto. Coming as it is when the prohibition debate has united the opposition against the AIADMK regime, the whole campaign, which would culminate in a public meeting in November, is seen as a strategy to build on a perceived anti-incumbency trend.
Party sources said the campaign also sealed the debate on who would lead the DMK in the upcoming Assembly polls.The campaign has been endorsed by our president M. Karunanidhi. This is also a strong endorsement of Mr. Stalin stature in the party, which has accepted him as the successor, a senior leader said.
While the Stalin camp exuberance was on expected lines, it is also important to note that the DMK has been reluctant to formally name him the Chief Ministerial candidate. While Mr. Karunanidhi indicated that it would be Mr. Stalin after him as early as in 2013, the matter went back and forth with the latter declaring in September 2014 that Mr. Karunanidhi will come back as Chief Minister after the 2016 Assembly polls.
However, Mr. Stalin has tightened his grip on the party organisation since then after it was revamped by introducing new district units. Most of those appointed as district secretaries after the recent party elections were Mr. Stalin loyalists.
Multiple reasons are attributed to the party holding back on announcing Mr. Stalin as Chief Ministerial candidate. The most important is the question of electoral alliance. With too many party leaders vying for that position, the wider acceptance of Mr. Stalin as a common alliance candidate is still a question mark.
Head of the Political Science department at the University of Madras, R. Manivannan, says a substantial chunk of the DMK machinery belonged to the previous generation nurtured by Mr. Karunanidhi. By naming Stalin the CM candidate, the leadership could end up alienating this chunk, which could feel it may not have a future after the polls. This group of senior leaders is also important for manoeuvring to form coalitions, he points out.
However, DMK leader and former Chennai Mayor, M. Subramanian, said the question of a formal announcement was unnecessary. In the party, every one has accepted Mr. Stalin as the eventual successor, he asserts.