Home India News Azhagiri, the lord of southern Tamil Nadu

Azhagiri, the lord of southern Tamil Nadu

By Papri Sri Raman, IANS

Madurai : A 20-20 cricket match and mutton biryani for lunch is what people here are looking forward to Wednesday, the birthday of M.K. Azhagiri, elder son of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi and political overlord of the state’s southern districts.

The temple town of Madurai, 500 km south of Chennai, is Azhagiri’s bastion from where he takes care of his and the ruling DMK’s interests. He turns 57 Wednesday.

Huge billboards line the city, showing Azhagiri, flanked by Karunanidhi and younger brother M.K. Stalin, the DMK’s chief minister in waiting.

The son of Dayaluammal and Karunanidhi, Azhagiri had for many years been kept away from political sunshine, due to differences with the DMK patriarch.

In 2001, when the Jayalalitha government arrested senior DMK leaders including Karunanidhi and Murasoli Maran, the Karunanidhi family rallied around the ageing leader.

Dayaluammal worked out a rapprochement between the father and sons, ensuring Azhagiri’s complete cooperation for her younger son Stalin.

In 2003, the Jayalalitha government arrested him for involvement in the murder of another DMK leader, T. Kiruttinan. The prosecution quoted an Azhagiri letter to Karunanidhi as saying that Kiruttinan was getting too big for his boots.

Azhagiri was the DMK’s de facto poll manager for southern districts, considered an AIADMK stronghold, in the 2006 assembly elections.

The DMK won the polls in alliance with the Congress and other parties. The victory was sweet for Azhagiri. He is out on bail though the Kiruttinan case has been posted out of Tamil Nadu, to Chitoor in Andhra Pradesh.

P.T.R. Palanivel Rajan, the only other important DMK leader in the Madurai region, died soon after the elections, leaving Azhagiri a free hand.

Azhagiri has come a long way since January 2007.

In May, he became instrumental in the ouster of Dayanidhi Maran, son of late Murasoli Maran, from the central cabinet. His supporters allegedly burnt the Maran family owned Dinakaran newspaper office in Madurai killing three people, alleging that the Marans had tried to create a rift between him and Stalin.

Azahagiri’s birthday is being celebrated in a big way despite a few sundry controversies. Among them are billboards showing Azhagiri in the garb of Pope Benedict, which ruffled sentiments in the Madurai diocese.

Last year, the billboards depicted him as Lord Rama, Shiva and Hanuman.

The death of a young woman here Sunday has been linked to an Azhaghiri aide. Karpagavalli, 19, was a trained nurse employed at the house of a supporter of Azhagiri, to look after his aged mother.

According to the family, the woman refused to go to work at Nagesh’s house and was found hanging Sunday morning, in the bathroom.