When the DMK was in power for five years, M.K. Stalin, despite being the Deputy Chief Minister, avoided Madurai as it was the stronghold of his elder brother M.K. Alagiri, who ran his own fiefdom in the temple city.
Now that Mr. Alagiri has been expelled, Mr.Stalin, touted as the next Chief Minister by his partymen, participated in a rally on Sunday to firm up his hold on the party in the southern districts. All the party functionaries of southern districts, along with past loyalists of Mr. Alagiri were present at the rally, making it the party’s biggest show of strength in Madurai in the recent past.
With the former Union Minister and party south zone organisational secretary Mr. Alagiri away in Chennai on Sunday, those in his camp chose to remain indoors and watch the DMK conference ‘live’ on Kalaignar TV.
“Yes, we are sad that the party conference is being held without ‘Annan Anjanenjan.’ That Mr. Stalin has managed to bring cadres from all over the south zone for the meeting is good for the party. But, this is not enough for the DMK to face the next Assembly election. It needs a workaholic like ‘Annan’ to keep the cadres’ spirit high during the election campaign,” a close confidant of Mr. Alagiri said.
Most of the party leaders in the south zone were identified and groomed by Mr. Alagiri, he said, adding that many had switched loyalty to Mr. Stalin subsequently. “It still hurts and haunts us,” he said.
Was it a slip of the tongue or was he speaking in earnest? At a function in Coimbatore on Sunday, Union Minister of State for Road Transport, Highways and Shipping Pon. Radhakrishnan said the Central government could have done more in the past year since assuming office last May. Not many noticed the statement though. He just went on to add that the Central government had done its best and would speed up things in the coming four years before facing the electorate. It was for the industrialists and members of the public to keep placing demands to the government so that it works faster than in the past, the Minister requested.
One of the main objectives of introducing the State-wide tender process for purchasing eggs for the noon-meal scheme in 2012 was to end cartelisation. Till then, the district administrations were doing it. The government changed it to cut the advertisement cost in the district-wise tendering and to avoid the delay in clinching the price with contractors. Industry insiders, however, say that the new system also has led to cartelisation as four big players in the poultry business had joined hands for this scheme for the past two years. Indian Youth Congress leaders in Salem have charged that this year’s tender conditions also favoured a big player in the business that has come as a disappointment to thousands of small players seeking the government to fix a price band that is not more than 25 paise above the NECC rate and cancellation of the tender.
(Reporting by S. Sundar, Karthik Madhavan and M.K. Ananth)