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DMK doesn’t know how to use me…won’t vote this time: MK Alagiri

Alagiri’s disappearance from the poll scene has left many of his supporters in southern Tamil Nadu in a fix.

tamil nadu elections, DMK M K Stalin, M K Alagiri, M Karunanidhi, DMK, tamil nadu polls, elections in tamil nadu, dmk, tamil nadu dmk, karunandhi, tamil nadu elections news, india news, chennai news, latest news From Alagiri album: with family on Pongal.

On May 7, as DMK leader M K Stalin addressed a massive rally in Madurai, his elder brother M K Alagiri sat in deep sulk at his palatial bungalow on the outskirts of the town. “I have no opinion,” he says of the election in which his father is contesting for the 13th time. And then for good measure: “I will not vote for any party this time.”

While the patriarch, M Karunanidhi, has made it clear that he will be chief minister should the DMK come to power — “If he (Stalin) has to get a chance, nature has to do something to me,” he said on Tuesday — there’s no doubt that the 63-year-old Stalin is the chosen one. Alagiri knows this better than anyone else, but has never been able to come to terms with his younger brother’s rise in the party.

Karunanidhi had seen this coming long ago and so, in 1980, he sent Alagiri to Madurai, ostensibly to look after the party and to run Murasoli, the DMK mouthpiece. For 36 years, he lorded over the district.

Now, with his brother running a high-voltage campaign, Alagiri says he has no stake in it.

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“It has been three years… at least two-and-half years,” says Alagiri about the last time he spoke to Stalin. Speaking on the phone from Madurai, he adds he hasn’t spoken to his half-sister Kanimozhi in almost three years.

About the party’s chances in Madurai, he says, “They (DMK) don’t know how to use me.

I am not interested in this kind of politics.” Is he willing to bet on how many seats the DMK will win in Madurai’s 10 constituencies? “Not a single seat,” he says.

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This is a very different Alagiri from the one Madurai saw in the summer of 2011. That election, he was everywhere — the centre of almost every controversy, the target of rivals’ barbs. At her rally in Madurai, AIADMK chief J Jayalalithaa had said, “This is the chance for the common man to punish the DMK for scams, kangaroo courts and rowdyism. If not now, when,” she had asked, urging the voters to bring back the “rule of law” in Madurai.

That was the time that Alagiri was in the news for all the wrong reasons. ‘Pottu’ Suresh, ‘Attack’ Pandi, ‘Karate’ Pandian were among the mafia leaders who allegedly thrived under Alagiri’s self-styled rule in Madurai. He was also named as an accused in the murder of ‘Pasumpon’ T Kiruttinan, a former DMK minister close to Stalin, but was acquitted in 2007.

Alagiri’s disappearance from the poll scene has left many of his supporters in southern Tamil Nadu in a fix. “We can’t be seen supporting him openly. Also, who knows, one day he will settle all the issues with his family and we will be thrown out of the party. So we meet him, but keep a low profile,” says an aide.

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“When Alagiri was in power, he misused it. He was indifferent to people, he was erratic in his work, he rarely turned up in Parliament when he was MP and union minister. But he is also a generous man who helps poor people and supports their children’s education. Everyday, some 100 people visit him at his home,” says one of his closest friends.

These days, his routine is rather unremarkable: wakes up at 7am, go for a walk, meets people, lunch, a short siesta, meets visitors again and retires for the day by 6 pm. “I get a lot of visitors everyday, mostly friends and followers. I also watch cricket — that’s my favourite past time,” he says.

Away from such benign indulgences, there’s something serious brewing on Alagiri’s turf. Many of his loyalists The Indian Express spoke to say they are working to defeat two candidates this election: P D R B Thiyakarasan of Madurai Central constituency and K Thalapathi of Madurai West, both known to be close to Stalin. “No senior leader is involved in this. We have boys on the ground to defeat them,” says an Alagiri supporter.

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First published on: 12-05-2016 at 04:25 IST
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