The long wait of a hardworking leader ended on Sunday with the party securing a comfortable majority of around 130 seats on its own. Senior Congress leader Anand Sharma called it a “richly deserved victory” for Stalin, who has led the party to power for its sixth time, in his maiden election as the Chief Ministerial candidate of the DMK, and that too in the absence of his late father M Karunanidhi.
In securing an independent majority for the party after 25 years - something his stalwart father could not manage in 2006 - Stalin has now silenced the critics, who refused to accept his definite emergence from the shadows of his late father after the near sweep in the 2019 Lok Sabha election. The DMK led alliance had won all but the Theni Parliamentary constituency. Stalin did not pull off the resounding victory easily. The long road to victory started on the streets of Gopalapuram in the 1960s when 14-year-old Stalin launched the area youth wing and cycled his way into the nook and corner of the area, campaigning in 1967. After enduring the batons of Indira Gandhi’s police during the MISA days, Stalin had to wait for over two decades for his maiden Assembly election victory in 1989. Following a defeat in 1991 post-Rajiv assassination, Stalin had created history five years later by becoming the first directly elected Mayor of Chennai in 1996. He repeated it in 2001 only to tender his resignation, thanks to then chief minister J Jayalalithaa, who had enacted the “one man, one post” rule, which forced him to be content with being the Thousand Lights MLA. Two years later, Stalin had risen in the party ranks by becoming DMK’s deputy general secretary in 2003. The subsequent 2006-11 DMK tenure saw the real rise of Stalin, who became the party treasurer in 2008, and a little less than a couple of years later the deputy Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu.
After failing in his election engineering in 2011, the prince-in-waiting, an epithet used for years to describe his long wait for the political rise, wrested absolute control of the party even in Karunanidhi’s presence in 2016 and became the DMK’s working president the same year. After Karunanidhi’s demise in August 2018, his elevation, which was a mere formality, happened in the same month. None described the justifiable rise of Stalin than his father when he had once said, “Stalin means hard work, hard work and hard work. I sometimes envy his hard work.”