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Kanimozhi’s small steps in ‘manly’ DMK: India Today

[MISC, Monday, 26 October 2009 09:28 No Comment]

DMK’s most vibrant and intellectual female face, Kanimozhi, is looking for her own space within the male-dominated party.

Emerging out of her father and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi’s shadow, the GenNext leader is working hard to create her own support-base at the grassroots level.

To realise her goal, the MP, for the time-being has set her sight firmly on the party’s women’s wing. Using the wing as a launchpad, Kanimozhi seeks to project herself as the woman icon of the party and probably counter AIADMK chief J. Jayalalithaa at a later stage.

Kanimozhi, for the first time, is holding a two-day ‘leadership workshop’ for women party members. The workshop, which began in Ooty on Saturday, has attracted many volunteers.

Besides interacting with the participants, she will also take a class on women’s role in political and social affairs. Volunteers from only three districts contiguous to Nilgris are allowed to participate.

Seeing the workshop’s popularity, she plans to conduct similar classes at various places across the state. And the usually media- savvy Kanimozhi has been content to do things quietly.

Maintaining a low profile, the young leader has allowed her to be dominated by the party’s two main factions headed by step brothers – Union minister M.K. Alagiri and heir apparent M.K. Stalin.

Despite her mother Rajathi – the third wife of the patriarch – wielding enormous clout and influencing government decisions, Kanimozhi has never had a faction of her own. On numerous occasions, she was seen siding with Alagiri and appeared satisfied with the conduct of the annual cultural extravaganza Sangamam. But her steady rise within the ranks hasn’t gone unnoticed.

From being the literary heir of her father, Kanimozhi has now acquired a high profile image.

She has effectively replaced flamboyant party leader and relative Dayanidhi Maran as the patriarch’s interlocutor with the Congress leadership. She was also part of the delegation of MPs that visited Sri Lanka recently – a move touted to be her brainchild.

It was the revolt by the Marans and their subsequent banishment, though brief, which saw her catapult into the DMK hierarchy.

On becoming a Rajya Sabha MP, she was touted as the party’s new face in Delhi.

However, that was short-lived. She had to make way for Alagiri who switched base from Madurai and joined the Union Cabinet.

But, the ambitious leader, after accepting the party’s decision, hasn’t taken things lying down.

There appears to be a clear strategy in her attempt, according to observers, as she has been cultivating the women’s wing.

The first ever state-level conference of the women wing was held at Cuddalore under her leadership last year.

Kanimozhi also embarked upon a project – employment fair for educated women in each district with the government’s blessings.

However, it remains to be seen how far Kanimozhi can go in a male-dominant party like the DMK. With powerful male family members, it may prove to be extremely difficult for her to emerge as a leader in her own right. The last such leader was Sathyavanimuthu, a Dalit, who was reportedly marginalised by party chief Karunanidhi.

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