Chennai/New Delhi: The fallout of Tamil Nadu's dynastic politics was on an ugly display in Madurai on Wednesday when Tamil daily Dinakaran's office was targeted by supporters of Chief Minister Karunanidhi's elder son M K Azhagiri.
The newspaper’s fault: it published an opinion poll on who should succeed the DMK supremo as the state chief minister.
While Azhagiri scored a mere two per cent, his younger brother and heir apparent M K Stalin got 70 per cent of the vote share.
Apparently miffed at the findings of the poll, a group of persons claiming Azhagiri supporters attacked the newspaper's office and set it on fire. Two employees and a security personnel of Dinakaran were killed in the violence.
The supporters hurled petrol bombs and stones at the building and police said 25 people were arrested following the violence as protests were also held in some other parts of the state like Tuticorin, Tirunelveli, Cumbum and Kamuthi.
We are not going leave who did this. They have committed a big crime,” said Dinakaran editor MuthuPandi.
Interestingly, it's the Maran family - related to Karunanidhi - that also seems to be the target apparently for making Azhagiri look “insignificant”. Dinakaran is owned by the Maran-run Sun Group. Owner of the Sun Group Kalanidhi Maran condemned the incident and said the attack was against the freedom of press.
Politics of family
While Stalin has been seen as Karunanidhi's heir, Azhagiri controls the DMK in south of the state.
The siblings have had their conflicts in the past, but this time but it will probably take more than water to put out the blazing war inside the DMK's first family.
“What provoked this was he publication and broadcast of an extremely stupid and foolish survey,” says Editor of The Hindu N Ram.
A similar opinion poll in Dinakaran projected Dayanidhi Maran as the best union minister from the state.
While Karunanidhi has usually said he doesn't believe opinion polls, today he was red faced and issued a statement on the incident.
“The DMK is a democratic party and no one will be chosen on the basis of family heredity. So I request no one to express opinions like this on the issue of succession. Even if someone expresses such opinions i request cadres not to take it heart and resort to violence. I severely condemn the attack on the media. Rs 2 lakh will be given to the families of those dead and action will be taken against the guilty," Karunanidhi said.
Ironically the incident comes at a time when the DMK is gearing up to celebrate 50 years of Karunanidhi in the Legislative Assembly.
Now the octogenarian chief minister will have to douse the flames within his family - a feud that's often raised serious questions about the future of the DMK.
(With inputs from Veeraraghav and agencies)