An Indian politician named after Joseph Stalin is set to become prime minister of the southern state of Tamil Nadu – a role he has been cared for since birth – after his party’s comfortable victory in the state assembly elections.
Muthuvel Karunanidhi Stalin, 68, born four days before the death of his namesake in 1953, is the son of the deceased five-time chief minister M. Karunanidhi, the hugely popular party chairman Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK).
After the votes were counted on Sunday, it emerged that the DMK-led Secular Progressive Alliance – a political coalition of left-wing parties, including India’s two main Communist parties – defeated the ruling party All India Anna Dravida. Munnetra Kazhagam, which is a regional party member of the right-wing national democratic alliance of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
In an emotional victory declaration, Stalin said, “Our goal was to bring DMK back to power when Kalaignar [his father] he was alive. But time got the better of us. To make that dream come true, we all worked tirelessly. This victory is recognition for all that hard work. “
Stalin, who remained in his father’s shadow until his death at the age of 94 in 2018, began his political journey as a 13-year-old DMK organizer. He formed the party’s youth wing in 1980 and was its secretary until 2017. He was also a former deputy minister of state.
The victory, which brings the DMK back to power for the first time in a decade, came in the wake of a campaign focused on strengthening the linguistic identity and autonomy of the state, as well as the promise of jobs and growth.
However, Stalin’s immediate challenge will be to overcome the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has likely been exacerbated by the elections.
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