M K Stalin, widely understood to be a natural heir to DMK supremo M Karunanidhi despite his protests, has been elevated as working President of the party. The elevation capped his amazing rise in the party during his nearly five-decade-long political career.
In a smooth 'succession', Stalin was named as working President on Wednesday by the party General Council with all powers of the post of President, a position his 93-year-old father M Karunanidhi continues to hold. After steadily climbing in the party hierarchy from starting as a municipal-ward level representative to becoming the treasurer and now the working President, the 63-year old leader has entered a decisive phase in his political career.
His elevation comes at a time when Tamil Nadu's politics is on the cusp of a change with the failing health of Karunanidhi, death of former AIADMK chief J Jayalalithaa and her aide V K Sasikala becoming the party General Secretary. Known as "Thalapathi" (commander) among his supporters, Stalin had held various posts in the party such as deputy general secretary and youth wing chief besides being a minister and later Deputy Chief Minister in his father's cabinet and Chennai Mayor.
With affable and easily accessible traits, Stalin endeared himself to the party's rank and file more by taking up new initiatives. Through his "Pesalam Vaanga" (Come let us talk) and "Namakku Naame" (we for ourselves) state-wide tours in the run-up to the elections, Stalin freely mingled with the common man and established himself as the man at the helm of DMK.
In the past few years, Stalin could arguably be said to have steered the political discourse through AIADMK and the ruling establishment preferring silence on most issues,a striking feature when Jayalalithaa was at the helm.