CHENNAI: India's largest political-media family is splitting. There have been hints that the Karunanidhi-Maran family would cease to be a hyphenated entity sooner than later, and the first official indication to this effect came on Monday when DMK president M Karunanidhi announced that his wife Dayalu Ammal has relinquished her 20% shares in Sun Network and its Tamil publications.
Karunanidhi, the former chief minister of Tamil Nadu and the head of the DMK party, said: "My wife was holding 20% shares in Sun TV, Kumkumam and other Tamil magazines. She has very amicably relinquished her shares and received the proceeds. After allocating sufficient amount towards income tax, she has divided the total proceeds and given me a portion — Rs 10 crore — by way of cheque.
"By earmarking a specific amount out of this fund, I have decided to start a trust called Kalaignar Karunanidhi Charitable Trust, having me as its chairman."
Karunanidhi did not reveal the total amount Ammal received for her 20% shares.The development also comes amidst speculation over the company going in for an IPO.
A member of the Maran family said this ``arrangement'' was on the cards for many months but refused to elaborate.
While sources in the family tell DNA that Karunanidhi has served an ultimatum on Sun Network MD and grand nephew Kalanidhi Maran to vacate the DMK headquarters premises (from where the channel is uplinking) within six months, there was at least one such innuendo in Karunanidhi's two-page press release. "… (buildings at) 367-369 Anna Salai (which is also the address of the Sun TV office) have been under the management of the DMK Trust. I, M Karunanidhi am the founder of the Trust and have been functioning as the chairman of the Trust."
But Maran family sources said Sun is unlikely to move out of its current office. Karunanidhi, who shared an emotional bonding with his nephew and former Union minister Murasoli Maran, is understandably not happy withMaran's son Kalanidhi. Even as the 40-year-old US-educated Kalanidhi tried to expand his 13-channel media empire in a professional manner, Sun often had to dance to the DMK's political tunes, risking its credibility and long-term gains.
"Both Karunanidhi and Kalanidhi have realised politics and media business cannot co-exist beyond a point," says an insider. Once the division is complete, all eyes will be on Kalanidhi's younger brother and Union IT minister Dayanidhi Maran, who was brought into politics and propelled to the cabinet berth by Karunanidhi.