Every now and then, videos of Swami Nithyananda’s sermons land in my phone inbox. In the episode of free entertainment that I received today, Nithyananda spoke about having delayed the sunrise by 40 minutes. It is testimony to his gullible devotees that they accepted his claim without challenging it.
But on both sides of the Cauvery, there was no delay in the son-rise. Almost as if by mutual agreement, the first families in both Tamil Nadu and Karnataka decided to anoint their gen-next as the chiefs of their party young wings on Thursday. While Udayanidhi Stalin, Tamil actor and son of DMK chief MK Stalin was appointed as the secretary of the DMK youth wing, Nikhil Kumaraswamy was made the president of the Karnataka Yuva Janata Dal.
Interestingly, Stalin himself had held the post for three decades before giving it up when he became DMK Working president in 2017. Within the DMK, given the dynastic politics from Karunanidhi to Stalin, the post is seen as a stepping stone to a bigger role within the party.
Udayanidhi graduated from being a producer to an actor and has done some ten movies as lead actor. Given the propensity of actors to take to politics once their innings in Kollywood ebbed, Udayanidhi has been seen as the DMK’s cinematic answer. It is also being seen as preparing the ground for Udayanidhi to handle the party given that the DMK expects to return to power in 2021 when Stalin will get more busy with matters of governance.
That Udayanidhi was being prepared for this role became apparent when over 40 district secretaries, in what looked like an orchestrated campaign, wrote to the DMK headquarters in Chennai. They demanded that Udayanidhi be posted as the DMK Youth wing secretary. The reasoning was that Stalin’s son had campaigned hard for the DMK and the result was there for everyone to see.
Nepotism is not a charge that can be leveled only against Stalin. That’s because in the recent Lok Sabha elections, six of the party’s 20 candidates were kith and kin of senior DMK leaders. Even in the AIADMK, the only candidate to get elected as MP happened to be the son of deputy CM, O Panneerselvam.
Across the border, the situation is a bit more complicated. JD(S) patriarch Deve Gowda is witnessing a jostling for political power between his two sons, HD Kumaraswamy and HD Revanna and their respective families. While Revanna’s son Prajwal won the Lok Sabha election from Hassan, Kumaraswamy’s son Nikhil lost in Mandya. This post is being seen as Gowda’s attempt to pacify the disappointed grandson.
What is common to both political families is that both had made claims that no one from their families will enter politics. Gowda had said none of his family members beyond his two sons will be encouraged in politics. The Lok Sabha elections changed that for good. Today apart from his two sons, Deve Gowda’s two daughters-in-law also are public representatives.
Likewise Stalin had announced that neither Udayanidhi nor son-in-law Sabareesh will join politics. Sabareesh handles most of the backend work as far as Stalin is concerned, without appearing in the public eye while Udayanidhi’s appointment today has made that promise look hollow.
One person who will not be amused will be Stalin’s brother MK Alagiri who has been left out in the cold. If he had played his cards well while DMK patriarch Karunanidhi was alive, Alagiri’s son Dhaya Alagiri too could have been in contention for power within the DMK ranks. With Alagiri reduced to persona non grata, that option is closed for ever.