The fight for succession in the ruling Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam resurfaced on Wednesday with party chief M Karunanidhi's elder son and Union minister M K Alagiri refusing to accept anyone other than his father as his leader.
Alagiri's remarks reignited the succession war that appeared to have been settled with the promotion of his younger sibling M K Stalin as deputy chief minister last year by Karunanidhi, with Alagiri himself being promoted to national politics after being inducted into the Union Cabinet.
In an interview to a Tamil magazine, Alagiri said none other than Karunanidhi was acceptable to him as leader and that barring the 86-year-old party chief, no other leader had the capacity to lead the Dravidian party.
Asked for his comments on his son's remarks, Karunanidhi said: "I myself do not know from which year my post retirement era starts."
Karunanidhi, who had last year undergone a major spinal cord surgery, announced in December that he planned to quit politics at the end of the World Classical Tamil conference at Coimbatore this June, as he wanted to devote more time to writing, which has been close to his heart.
The succession war was triggered by a survey in 2007 by a Tamil daily Dinakaran, owned by the grand nephews of Karunanidhi, Maran brothers Kalanidhi and Dayanidhi, which had put Stalin ahead of Alagiri as the political successor to Karunanidhi.
Irate supporters of Alagiri had then allegedly set the office of Dinakaran at Madurai on fire, killing three persons. Stalin, who build up the youth brigade of the party, one of the main pillars of the DMK, was first rewarded with local administration portfolio in 2006 when the party came back to power.
A day after Alagiri was sworn in as Union minister, Stalin was promoted as deputy chief minister and was also entrusted with the important portfolio of industry, held by his father.
Alagiri, the second son of Karunanidhi, is said to have been instrumental in not only broadening DMK's base in south Tamil Nadu once considered to be bastion of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam but also ensured that his party won all the Lok Sabha seats from that part of the state last year.