Dynastic rule is common place in India. But Karunanidhi’s extended family, comprising children from three wives, is becoming a headache not only for the DMK leader, but also the Congress at the Centre. The task of satisfying both the Karunanidhi family’s political aspirations and the DMK’s needs is proving to be a daunting one.
Apart from his immediate family, Karunanidhi has to accommodate grand nephew (sister’s grandson) Dayanidhi Maran in New Delhi. So, party leader TR Baalu is out of the reckoning, while A Raja stays.
After the death of his father Murasoli Maran, whom Karunanidhi referred to as his conscience keeper, Dayanadhi has been the face of the DMK in Delhi, a role which he performed well, much to the delight of prime minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi. So, he cannot be ignored.
Meet the Karunanidhis
First wife: Padmavathy (no more)
Son MK Muthu (Born 1948)
After the death of MGR, Karunanidhi tried to groom Muthu (a mediocre actor and singer) to take his place. Muthu failed to live up to expectations and also did not rise politically. His defection to AIADMK prematurely ended his political career. A depressed Muthu took to alcoholism, deserted his family and slipped into penury. He resurfaced in 2008 after a 20 year hiatus. He lives with his son Arivunidhi, a doctor and a playback singer, in Chennai.
Second wife: Dayalu Ammal (lives in Gopalapuram)
Four children: MK Azhagiri, Selvi, Stalin and Tamilarasu
MK Azhagiri: (Born: Jan 30, 1950); Education: BA
He was deported to Madurai by Karunanidhi in 1980 as the DMK patriarch found him to be a recalcitrant young man. He was reportedly engineering dissension against his younger brother Stalin. Azhagiri made Madurai his own fiefdom and did not allow interference from either family or other DMK leaders.
He came into limelight after the 2006 assembly elections when he became actively involved in party activities in Madurai. He became a political hero following the 2009 Thirumangalam assembly bypoll when the DMK defeated the AIADMK candidate despite the anti-incumbency factor. Azhagiri has three children, Kayalvizhi, Anjugaselvi and Durai Dayanidhi. All of them live in Chennai. Both Kayalvizhi and Durai have political aspirations. Kayalvizhi joined the party’s women's wing in Cuddalore after she made a speech withAzhagiri watching her performance from the crowd.
Political goals: Wants to become a Union minister on equal footing with Dayanidhi Maran.
Not actively involved in politics though of late she has shown interest in family affairs. She is married to Murasoli Selvam, brother of Murasoli Maran (Dayanidhi Maran’s father), and lives in Bangalore. However, she makes frequent trips to Chennai to manage family affairs and is credited for the rapprochement between Karunanidhi and the junior Marans (Kalanidhi and Dayanidhi). She has a daughter Ezhilarasi.
(Born: March 1, 1953) Education: BA.
Named after Joseph Stalin, who died in the same year as his birth. Stalin is the face of the party. He has been accepted as the successor of Karunanidhi in the party and government. He knows his limitations, has rich administrative and political experience as he was also mayor of Chennai. He enjoys a rapport with Dayanidhi Maran and is said to be his only supporter within the family. He and his wife Durgadevi have a son Udhayanidhi and daughter Senthamarai. He also has a grandson from his son and daughter-in-law Krithika. Udhayanidhi is into filmmaking, while Krithika runs a magazine Inbox1305. Senthamarai is married to Sabareesan.
Political goals: Become the chief minister of the state and president of DMK.
Keeps a low profile like his sister. He is married to Mohana. The couple has a daughter Poonguzhali and son Inbanidhi. Tamilarasu runs a few shops in the city. He makes occasion appearance with Stalin, but hasn’t made any political noise.
Live-in companion: Rajathi Ammal
One daughter: Kanimozhi (Born on Jan 5, 1968) Education: MA (Economics)
Kanimozhi shot into limelight after the Karunanidhis and Marans quarrelled over an article that appeared in the Maran-owned Dinakaran newspaper’s Madurai edition. The newspaper office was attacked in May 2007, which left three persons dead. Dayanidhi Maran was stripped off his ministerial portfolio at the behest of Karunanidhi and Kanimozhi elected to Rajya Sabha.
A poet and litterateur, Kanimozhi married Athiban Bose, a Sivakasi-based businessman in 1989. But divorced and married G Aravindan, a Singapore-based Tamil literary figure, on August 21, 1997. The couple has a son Aditya. She is also involved in social and cultural activities. Her house in CIT Colony, where she lives with her mother Rajathi Ammal, has become the hub of political activities.
Political goals: To become a member of the union ministry
Karunanidhi's grand nephew: Dayanidhi Maran — son of former union minister Murasoli Maran (Karunanidhi’s sister’s son)
Born: December 5, 1966; Educational qualification: BA
Dayanidhi, whose brother owns the Sun Group of TV channels and Dinakaran newspaper, came into limelight after the death of his father Murasoli Maran in 2003. Dayanidhi represents his father’s constituency South Chennai. He won for a second time in 2009 after sweeping the polls in 2004. He is the face of the DMK and an amateur radio operator. His short term as minister of IT and telecom was commended by the Congress. He established a good rapport with senior Congress leaders, including Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh. In fact, his quick rise in Delhi political circles has made family members, especially Azhagiri, envious.