(Image source from: NDTV.com)
MK Stalin on Tuesday took charge as the official president of Tamil Nadu's opposition Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), one of the state's two main parties.
The chosen political heir of his father and DMK president M Karunanidhi, Stalin has managed the party for over a year as his 94-year-old father faded out of public life due to failing health.
Karunanidhi died three weeks ago.
At the DMK headquarters, black-and-red party flags, music, and drumbeats this morning signaled celebrations for the first time in days, in the lead of a formal takeover by Stalin, the party's second president.
Karunanidhi served as DMK chief for period 49 years.
DMK loyalists say the 65-year-old Stalin, exercises full control over the party.
After Karunanidhi's death, the party announced an election but Stalin was the only person to file his nomination at Anna Arivalayam, the party headquarters in Chennai, on Sunday. He was elected party president unopposed amid chants of "Thalapathy" (commander) and roaring applause.
Senior party leaders at a meeting on August 14, urged the ''waiting prince'' to lead them.
Senior leader and party principal secretary Duraimurugan will take the post of treasurer, previously held by Stalin.
Stalin's supporters have dismissed threats by his older brother and rebel MK Alagiri as "rhetoric". Alagiri, who was expelled in 2014, has warned the party of "consequences" if he is not taken back. "Kalaignar is not there now. The party has to be saved and protected," he has said.
A former deputy chief Minister, minister and two-time Chennai mayor, Stalin, was groomed by his father. For the last assembly election, it was Stalin who had led the campaign. Stalin's bit-by-bit elevation and projection as Karunanidhi's successor led to rebellion by Alagiri, who, too, eyed his father's throne.
However, Karunanidhi expelled his eldest son, a former union minister and party's Organizing Secretary (South).
Alagiri made an appearance at his father's funeral at Marina Beach and claimed that Karunanidhi loyalists were with him. He plans to lead a peace rally to Karunanidhi's memorial on September 5.
The rivalry of Alagiri-Stalin has shadowed the DMK for ages but Karunanidhi kept a fragile peace.
Insiders rule out any possibility of Alagiri's re-entry to the party. Stalin's other big challenge is bypolls in Tamil Nadu for two seats - Tiruparangundram in Alagiri's bastion Madurai and Tiruvarur, his father's seat.
In 2014 Lok Sabha polls, the DMK had drawn a blank, with the AIADMK sweeping 37 of the 39 seats. It endured consecutive defeats in the Tamil Nadu assembly polls in 2011 and 2016.
The DMK's candidate in the by-election for J Jayalalithaa's RK Nagar seat lost his deposit and came a poor third after independent candidate T.T.V. Dinakaran and AIADMK leader E. Madhusudhanan.
By Sowmya Sangam