MK Stalin's son Udhayanidhi parlays a career in cinema into one in politics

Topics M K Stalin | DMK | AIADMK

Udhayanidhi Stalin
Cinema personalities make good politicians in Tamil Nadu. And it is no accident that Udhayanidhi Stalin, who is son of DMK President M K Stalin and grew up in politics and the cinema, should now get a job in the party.

He entered the film industry some years ago as a producer and then as an actor. Now he has parlayed his career in the cinema into one in politics when the DMK appointed him secretary to the youth wing of the party, an office his father held from 1982 to 2017. 

Udhayanidhi has said he will also continue acting in movies. However, it is speculated he will contest the upcoming legislative assembly by-poll to the Nanguneri constituency.

The appointment gives a lie to Stalin’s statement to a Tamil magazine called Vikatan three years ago. In the interview he had said, “Neither my son nor son-in-law will join politics.

However, Udhayanidhi said: “I was not expecting this. I don’t take it as a recognition, I think of it as an appreciation for youngsters in the DMK. From the beginning, I have been saying this I want to be one among the party workers.”

Critics have lambasted Udhayanidhi’s appointment, saying “dynasty politics in the DMK has touched a new high”. Minister and AIADMK leader D Jayakumar said, “The AIADMK is a people’s party — even an ordinary person can become chief minister. But the DMK is a party of kings, only political heirs can get big posts.”

After completing his school and higher education in Chennai, Udhayanidhi went to the US for higher studies. He is married to Kiruthiga Udhayanidhi and they have two children. His sibling, Senthamarai Stalin, is not in politics.

Udhayanidhi started film production under the banner of Red Giant Movies. He acted in Tamil movies, much like his father did in the 1970s. He looks after the family-owned Murasoli Trust, which runs the DMK’s mouthpiece publication, Murasoli, founded by his grandfather and former chief minister, the late M Karunanidhi, who too was a well-known film script writer.

Unlike Stalin, who has gone through the rough and tumble of politics, Udhayanidhi’s has been comfortable so far. In 1967, when he was 14, Stalin campaigned for Murasoli Maran, his uncle, who was contesting Lok Sabha election. He joined the general council of the DMK in 1973, and was arrested during the emergency after his Karunanidhi’s government was dismissed on corruption charges. Stalin spent a year in jail. 

Though Udhayanidhi said he was not expecting the post, he has been active in politics and campaigned for DMK candidates, including his aunt M K Kanimozhi, in the recent elections. As an actor, he has mobilised the support of his clubs of fans, said to be around 20,000 of them, to work for the election.

His social media comment says he campaigned for 26 days, travelling 7,200 km in the state.

In an interview to a Tamil news channel during the campaign, he refuted rumours that his father was considering giving him the post. 

“Any responsibility in the party will be given based on the work the person has done for the growth of the party,” he said during the interview, adding that he was not ready to take up any position. 

“I have been active for almost a year, but my ambition is to prepare myself more and be part of the people,” he added.

The DMK has well-connected members in high positions. Even the party’s district secretaries and second-line leaders have made their children MP or MLA. DMK parliamentary party leader T R Baalu’s son TRB Raja is an MLA. Former minister and Villupuram District Secretary Ponmudi’s son Gowtham Sigamani is a Lok Sabha MP. And DMK Treasurer Durai Murugan’s son Kadhir Anand will be the party’s candidate for the Vellore Lok Sabha seat, whose election will be held on August 5.

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