M K Stalin seems to be in the eye of the storm of Tamil Nadu politics once again for all the wrong reasons.
It started with Thiruvalluvar and now it is about his detention during the Emergency, which he says was under MISA but his opponents beg to differ.
Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) President M K Stalin, the leader of the third-largest party in the Lok Sabha, seems to be struggling when he is cornered.
The DMK and its allies in the United Progressive Alliance, including the Congress, had a smooth going till the Lok Sabha polls in May this year. After that, they have been put on the backfoot, coming under frequent scrutiny by the media in Tamil Nadu.
Sometimes, Stalin has invited the trouble on himself like the controversy over Panchami lands. (Read here.)
Besides the Panchami land controversy, where the title deed of the DMK’s official journal Murasoli has come under scrutiny, Stalin is under a cloud over why he was arrested during the Emergency in 1975.
During the period when Emergency was imposed in the country in 1975 by the Indira Gandhi government, Stalin was imprisoned for 10 months.
DMK and its leaders claim that their president was arrested under the Maintenance of Internal Security Act (MISA). But his detractors beg to differ, saying that this is not factual.
When DMK senior leader, K Ponmudi was confronted --- during an interview by Win News --- with the fact that Stalin’s name doesn’t figure in the Shah Commission report, he feigned ignorance.
An AIADMK speaker at a party’s meeting said that the DMK President had been arrested for reasons other than those falling under MISA. These charges have been reiterated by the Tamil Nadu Fisheries Minister D Jayakumar.
The problem for the DMK is that its leader's actions at the prime of his youth are under scrutiny and they are a little unpalatable for them.
To compound DMK’s woes, actor and the party’s former member Radha Ravi, whose father and late actor M R Radha was also detained under MISA, wondered in a television interview whether Stalin can produce the detention copy of his arrest during Emergency.
(M R Radha was convicted in 1967 for shooting and injuring M G Ramachandran --- founder of the All India Anna DMK --- in a dispute. After the shooting incident, Ramachandran had difficulty in speaking.)
“Something should be said about the reason for his detention in that copy,” Ravi quipped.
Earlier this week, responding to a media query, Tamil Nadu Minister for Tamil Official Language and Culture, MaFoi K Pandiarajan, said that Stalin himself had accepted that he was arrested during the period when other people were detained under MISA.
“He has built up (his case) as if he was detained for voicing in favour of democracy. This is wrong. People say that he was arrested for his wrong actions…,” the Minister said.
This set off alarm bells in the DMK. The surprising aspect is that this Opposition party had kept quiet all this while when Stalin’s detention under MISA had previously come under scrutiny, including the time when Minister D Jayakumar made his comments.
However, it is probable that the DMK has come under extreme pressure this week because of the way it has been cornered on the controversy over Thiruvalluvar (read here).
The DMK cadre decided to protest Pandiarajan’s statement and burnt his effigy in front of his house on Thursday morning (7 November). Undeterred, the minister quoted Tamil freedom fighter and poet Subramania Bharathi to remind the DMK and its leaders that these acts wouldn’t scare him.
The tweet also led to the DMK being slammed on social media for its act of threatening a minister. Stalin issued a statement to his party cadre to shelve such acts and said: “Let’s forget and forgive as Pandiarajan’s statement only shows his standard.”
If the DMK thought the issue would end there, then the party and its leader were wrong. More criticism and scorn followed that the party had to digest silently without giving any proper response.
On its part, the DMK cadre tried to attack Pandiarajan personally but their efforts were in vain. The problem with the DMK is that its President M K Stalin is fighting with his back to the wall and he has not been successful in wriggling out of a tight corner.
The problem for Stalin is that his cadre is impatient with him and thus are taking it out on the opponents, particularly those who scrutinize their leader minutely.
The grievance for the DMK cadre is that their leader hasn't come out with his guns blazing to deny these charges or prove them wrong. To distract attention from that, they are resorting to such tactics.