‘My suspension is a reward for standing up for DMK cadres’

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MK Alagiri, who turned 63 on 30 January, is a man of few words. In his four-year term as Union Minister for Fertilisers, he never bothered to answer questions in Parliament. He never cared to see official files nor spoke to visiting delegations. It seemed as if he was enjoying his holidays in New Delhi, while frequently visiting Madurai to keep a tab on developments in the temple town. He was eyeing the DMK’s top post once party supremo M Karunanidhi stepped down. But his father preferred to anoint MK Stalin as his successor.

Last week, Alagiri was on a foreign trip when he came to know that plans were afoot to dissolve the party unit in Madurai. He rushed back to Chennai to confront his father. On 24 January, Alagiri was suspended from the party and relieved of his posts for violating party discipline. “His continuation is inappropriate as it will further disrupt party discipline,” said party general secretary K Anbazhagan.

A week after his unceremonious suspension from the party, Alagiri has two choices: fight back or wait for mercy killing. He has decided to hit back at his clan. His targets are Stalin and the Marans, who paved the way for Stalin’s elevation. Alagiri tells Jeemon Jacob about what happened on that fateful day.

EDITED EXCERPTS FROM AN INTERVIEW

MK Alagiri |  63 former union minister, DMK
MK Alagiri | 63 | Former Union Minister, DMK.  Photo: Iniyan Lenin

How do you react to the allegations made by your father?
Even in my wildest dreams, I didn’t expect that he would level such grave charges against me. I was shocked to watch Kalaignar’s interview in which he made those allegations. But I will accept them as his birthday gift to me. The party cadres know all about me. They will not believe those charges. I will always be on the side of the cadres.

I have only raised issues that concern the cadres. I always stood for them and supported them. I have no intention of hurting my father. Kalaignar should live a long and healthy life. We would rather die before him so that his tears could drench us.

So, what really happened on 24 January when you met your father in Chennai?
During the meeting, I only took up the issue of the party cadres being suspended. I also explained to him about the grievances of the party functionaries. But they suspended me from the party. The suspension was the reward given to me for standing up for the cadres and justice. I never threatened him.

What was the reason given for your suspension?
Now, Kalaignar says I was suspended for threatening him and saying that Stalin would die within three months. However, party general secretary K Anbazhagan stated different reasons when he announced my suspension. The full text was published in (the party mouthpiece) Murasoli.

What were the party cadres complaining about?
The party cadres had sent several complaints to (DMK headquarters) Anna Arivalayam in Chennai. But the complaints were not passed on to either Kalaignar or the party general secretary. That’s why I met Kalaignar personally and explained the grievances of the cadres. I told him that the party elections were being held in an unfair manner not only in Madurai district, but all over Tamil Nadu.

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Bureau Chief, South

Jeemon Jacob has been a journalist for 26 years both in print and television, as of 2011. He was a Reuters Fellow and spent nine months in Oxford University as visiting scholar in 1994-95. He has headed the political bureau in New Delhi of the Rashtra Deepika group of publications and later joined News Express in Brunei Darussalam as Features Editor. He won the Statesman award for rural reporting in 1987 for his seven articles that exposed a brown sugar racket in Kumily, Kerala.

In 1990, he won the state award for best reporting and in 1992, his article on social alienation of people with HIV/AIDS won the prestigious PUCL Award for human rights reporting in 1992. Jeemon is a graduate in English Literature and Journalism and has exposed the corruption behind the DMK government’s allotting prime land to high court judges, senior civil servants, and the kith and kin of politicians under the government’s discretionary quota. He is based in Thiruvananthapuram.

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