CHENNAI: Will MK Kanimozhi be DMK's answer to J Jayalalithaa?
According to political observers here, DMK patriarch M Karunanidhi's daughter Kanimozhi's career is apparently following the same course as Jayalalithaa's transformation-from an advocate for Tamil culture to a political figure.
The DMK, sources close to the family say, is looking at a Rajya Sabha spot for Kanimozhi.
Many will recall that AIADMK chief Jayalalithaa made her mark as an English and Hindi-speaking AIADMK MP and made many friends in New Delhi's power circles from 1984. She was also the party's spokesperson before taking over its reigns.
The 39-year-old Kanimozhi is Rajathi Ammal's daughter. After the DMK came to power, Karunanidhi's CIT Road house, where Rajathi lives, has emerged as the centre for important political conclaves.
MK Stalin, Karunanidhi's son from Dayalu Ammal and a minister for local administration, is the other prominent member of the chief minister's immediate family besides central Communications Minister Dayanidhi Maran.
The DMK has been in search of an English-speaking spokesperson other than Maran in New Delhi.
By the end of 2006, pro-DMK media was going all out in projecting Kanimozhi as a 'poet' and a close ally of the Congress, through forums like 'Karuthu' she jointly hosted with Karthi Chidambaram, Finance Minister P Chidambaram's son.
She then began giving interviews in prestigious Tamil publications in defence of Tamil culture, even pan-Tamil culture and in support of Sri Lankan Tamils and their demand for a separate state.
In recent weeks, Kanimozhi has managed to draw a lot of controversy, with the pro-Jayalalithaa channel Jaya TV even linking Karunanidhi's daughter to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).
From February 21 to 26, Kanimozhi, who co-manages Tamil Maiyam (Centre), organised a weeklong folk art show, 'Chennai Sangamam'. Allegations are that the tourism department was ordered to support the Rs10-million show. Kanimozhi, however, told the media here that 'the funds came from private sponsors'.
The founder of Tamil Maiyam is a priest called Jegath Gasper Raj, who shot into fame producing 'Thiruvasagam in Symphonic Oratorio' by Ilayaraja and a Mozart-Carnatic classical fusion album 'Mozart meets India'.
In a late night programme on Sunday, Jaya TV accused Gasper Raj, a close associate of Kanimozhi, of association with LTTE fundraisers like Nachimuthu Socrates, who has been reportedly interrogated in the US.
At the festival, both Karunanidhi and Stalin came out in open support of Kanimozhi. "Kanimozhi has my poetic ability, literary craving, love for the Tamil language and the ability to work hard," Karunanidhi declared.
Stalin promised his sister that Tamil Maiyam would be an annual event. They have criticised Jaya TV for linking Kanimozhi with the LTTE.
About the same time, 10 days ago, Jayalalithaa reminded the DMK patriarch that in 1991 his government was dismissed for encouraging the Tamil Tigers. Similar criticism has followed the seizure in Tamil Nadu of detonators, grenades, AK-56 rifles and ammunition besides chemicals, satellite phones, hand-held GPS sets and food stocks, apparently meant for the LTTE.
Jayalalithaa says, "Karunanidhi and his family members are functioning as power centres."