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MK Stalin: From a gritty teenage campaigner to mature DMK boss
From a teen canvassing for the DMK during polls to facing the dark days of Emergency, and finally taking over the reins of the party his father the late M Karunanidhi presided over for nearly five decades, MK Stalin has seen it all in politics.
The 65-year-old leader's ascent as the DMK chief heralds a new era in the Dravidian party, making him only the second man after his father to be elected as party president.
In 1969, Karunanidhi was elected the DMK president, a post created for him following the death of party founder CN Annadurai.
Although Karunanidhi wanted to name Stalin originally as Ayyadurai, borrowing 'Ayya' from rationalist leader the late EV Ramasamy Periyar who was addressed so, and Durai from Annadurai, he had a change of mind following the death of Soviet leader Joseph Stalin in 1953. Karunanidhi, an atheist, named his son, who was born the same year, after the Communist leader.
An early bird in politics, Stalin campaigned for the DMK in the 1967 assembly elections as a teen and rose steadily up the party hierarchy.
During the Emergency, he was arrested under the draconian Maintenance of Internal Security (MISA) Act and was imprisoned.
Stalin's MISA days prompted DMK general secretary K Anbazhagan to tell the party's General Council meet today how he had to face "untold miseries" during his incarceration.
Years later, a rewarding political life lay in store for Stalin as he not only headed the DMK's youth wing for the first time in 1984 but also made his debut as a legislator in 1989. He is now a 6-time MLA.
As the Mayor of DMK-dominated Chennai Corporation between 1996-2001, Stalin won acclaim for construction of a number of flyovers to ease traffic congestion. However, these were soon to trouble him.
When the AIADMK came back to power in 2001, the government accused Stalin and Karunanidhi of corrupt practices in the construction of the flyovers, resulting in their infamous midnight arrest.
However, the state police later dropped the case for want of adequate evidence.
By 2006 Stalin gained more prominence and made his debut as a minister in his father's cabinet. He was allotted the Municipal Administration and Drinking Water Supply portfolios. He was elevated as Deputy Chief Minister in 2009.
Around this time, a succession war broke out between him and elder brother MK Alagiri, who was also gaining prominence and was a union minister.
However, Karunanidhi made it clear that Stalin would succeed him and inherit his legacy.
At the peak of the sibling rivalry, Alagiri was booted out of the party in 2014 by Karunanidhi for alleged anti-party activities, a move seen as clearing the decks for Stalin's future elevation.
The party rank and file too sided with Stalin.
Though Stalin officially assumed the reins of the party today, he has virtually running it for the past few years as Karunanidhi started keeping indifferent health.
Stalin finalised the party's strategy for the 2014 Lok Sabha polls in which the DMK drew a blank, and the 2016 Assembly elections, which it lost to the AIADMK.
Though DMK failed to return a single MP in 2014, it put up a better show under Stalin in 2016, garnering 89 of the 98 seats in the opposition kitty in the 234-member Tamil Nadu Assembly.
Stalin also acted in a few Tamil films and TV serials in the 1980s.