Monday, 16 May, 2022
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Stalin has won, but Udhayanidhi is the real ‘rising son’ of DMK

Udhayanidhi Stalin, son of DMK chief M.K. Stalin & grandson of former CM M.K. Karunanidhi, is leading by a comfortable margin at Chepauk-Thiruvallikeni.

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New Delhi: With leads showing a win for the DMK’s ‘rising sun’ symbol, there will be a new focus on the party’s ‘rising son’ too. Party chief M.K. Stalin’s son, Udhayanidhi Stalin, grabbed headlines when he took on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah during the campaign and dodged the AIADMK’s jibes and the dynasty darts.

He now leads comfortably by over 24,000 votes at Chepauk-Thiruvallikeni (according to the EC website as of 5.20 pm). The DMK is also set to form the government as the party itself is leading in 120 of the 234 seats in the state. The majority mark is 118. 

Also read: How ‘captain’ Pinarayi Vijayan led LDF in Kerala, is set to break a decades-old record

A political newbie

To ensure his first political outing was a success, Udhayanidhi, the actor-turned-politician, was often seen campaigning in his constituency under the watchful eye of MP Dayanidhi Maran, picking up babies and folding his hands in front of the elderly as he was showered with flowers. 

Despite being the butt of many jokes of the AIADMK’s IT wing, the DMK youth wing leader emerged as one of the star campaigners in the Tamil Nadu elections. 

He hit the ground running in early 2020 and then relentlessly campaigned across the state. Be it his encounters with the police for flouting lockdown rules or his challenge to Modi-Shah to come after him instead of his sister, during IT raids against her, Udhayanidhi showed he meant business.

His constituency of Chepauk-Thiruvallikeni, or Chepauk-Triplicane as it is known, is historically associated with his grandfather, the late chief minister M. Karunanidhi, who held the seat between 1996 and 2011. 

Responding to jibes of being the crown prince

In the run-up to the polls, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had called him a ‘crown prince’ after his candidature was announced. The also BJP criticised him for his past remarks on Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley, and the AIADMK shared old videos of him saying he would never join politics. But Udhayanidhi remained unfazed and took all of this in his stride.

As Modi said the DMK gave him a ticket by sidelining others in the party, Udhayanidhi in turn accused the BJP of sidelining stalwarts like L.K. Advani and Yashwant Sinha.

He also took on Modi when he campaigned with a brick, supposedly of the AIIMS Hospital near Madurai that Modi had promised in 2016 but never came up. Taking a jibe at the BJP, he said this was all Modi had to show for the hospital.  

Even though he faced much flak for perpetuating dynasty politics after he was made the youth wing president of the DMK, party members say he is a true ‘people’s leader’.

“He knows the ground reality and is sailing along just like his grandfather and father,” senior DMK leader S.S. Palanimanickam told ThePrint. “He is a very simple man. And never shows that he is above the public which is what people identify with.” 

On whether it was too soon for Udhayanidhi to become a minister, A. Panneerselvam, author of Karunanidhi: A Life, said, “He is 44 years old. How is it too soon? His grandfather became CM when he was 44.” 

(Edited by Arun Prashanth)

Also read: Why BJP’s Bengal blitzkrieg and Modi-Shah attacking Mamata have failed


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