Nov 22, 2008

India - Karunanidhi lists reasons for rift with Maran brothers

CHENNAI: In effect ruling out a rapprochement, Chief Minister and DMK president M. Karunanidhi on Thursday listed out the issues and incidents that led to the rift between him and the Maran brothers, Dayanidhi and Kalanithi, owners of the Sun TV Network.

Mr. Karunanidhi said that even in his dreams he did not think that the sons of his nephew Murasoli Maran would turn against him and become his enemies. Writing in the party organ ‘Murasoli,’ Mr. Karunanidhi narrated three incidents, which he said showed that the Marans were acting against him, his family and the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and the government.

The first incident related to the hurried manner in which Mr. Karunanidhi and his family were asked to offload shares in the Sun TV Network. The second was the opinion polls published in the Tamil daily ‘Dinakaran,’ owned by the Marans. The third was the manner in which the Sun TV Network vacated its premises at Anna Arivalayam, the DMK headquarters. Mr. Karunanidhi said that he and his family members were given Rs. 100 crore for offloading their stakes in the Sun TV Network group. “What was the compulsion to offload the shares when Sun TV was functioning perfectly? What was the profit made by Sun TV? I was not interested in knowing all these details. When many shareholders did not come forward to sign the agreement, I convinced all of them and ensured that there was no bitterness,” the Chief Minister recalled.

On the opinion poll, which placed Dayanidhi Maran above all other Union Ministers from Tamil Nadu, Mr. Karunanidhi said he had questioned the need for an opinion poll when there was no election. “Is it fair to publish an opinion poll that has given just one per cent support to Anbumani Ramadoss, an alliance partner? Would it not turn the PMK partymen’s anger at the DMK? Will the friends in the Congress welcome granting 27 per cent support to Finance Minister P. Chidambaram, who has long experience and enjoys support across the country, and crediting Dayanidhi Maran with 64 per cent. What purpose is going to be achieved by giving 7 per cent support to DMK Minister T.R. Baalu? Not just me, all the senior politicians of Tamil Nadu found the opinion poll wrong. I was upset after reading it. I personally told Kalanithi Maran and Dayanidhi Maran to stop the opinion poll. But my advice was rejected,” he said.

Subsequently, another opinion poll on the people’s choice of his heir-apparent projected that M.K. Stalin had the highest acceptability with a 70 per cent rating, while M.K. Azhagiri and Kanimozhi polled two per cent votes each. “If the first opinion poll sought to create confusion among allies, the second tried to create confusion among members of the family," he said.

Mr. Karunanidhi said Mr. Azhagiri and Ms. Kanimozhi had laid no claim to being his heir. Referring to the attacks on the Dinakaran office in Madurai, the Chief Minister said Mr. Azhagiri might not have been angered by the publication of the opinion poll. “But will his supporters remain silent? So they entered the Dinakaran office and indulged in violence without his knowledge. Though Mr. Azhagiri did not approve of the violence, such a situation was created and three innocent employees were killed. Who is responsible for it?”

Mr. Karunanidhi said Sun TV was asked to vacate Anna Arivalayam after the network started launching a campaign against the DMK government, Electricity Minister Arcot N. Veeraswami and Union Minister A. Raja. “As a grandfather I might tolerate this. But how can I tolerate the deliberate mudslinging on the party and the government?" he asked.

Mr. Karunanidhi also published in ‘Murasoli’ six photographs of the damage caused to Anna Arivalayam after Sun TV vacated the premises.

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