DMK pins hopes on strategist Alagiri

Muthuvel Karunanidhi Alagiri, the man behind many a success in the battles for ballots down south, has once again emerged as the mascot for the DMK campaign in the 2011 elections.
Alagiri may lack communication skills in Parliament and appear hesitant before TV cameras, but when it comes to 'ground level' management, he is a master craftsman in maneuvering the electorate in the Dravidian heartland. Unlike other leaders, going on a campaign trail and canvassing for votes is not his style. While his brother Stalin would go on the campaign tour, Alagiri says, “I will not campaign but go constituency to constituency to motivate cadres and advise them on winning strategies”.
It's not difficult to interpret that supreme confidence - his maneuverability skills were best demonstrated in the notorious win in the Tirumangalam bypoll in Jan 2009. A series of bypolls and Parliamentary elections have since given Anjanenjan (brave heart) the opportunity to perfect the art these last three years.
Today, Alagiri, 61, is the most feared campaign manager, not only for the rival party leaders but also for those within the DMK alliance. His writ must be obeyed, especially in the 58 constituencies in the south zone. His campaign machine includes strong booth committees and precise co-ordination among local functionaries of alliance parties and village elders.
Whenever elections are announced, the DMK would weave a close-knit campaign, placing Alagiri in the lead. It's no bother that the man at times uses 'unconventional' methods to rattle the rivals. One such modus operandi is to spread the net for poaching the rival camp for bagging 'useful' middle-level functionaries, particularly during the critical pre-poll period. One such recent 'catch' was Rani Rajamanickam, wife of former Congress MLA in Melur for countering the caste card and keeping the constituency under control.
Initially, the party high command alone had reposed faith on him.
After the string of victories, even the allies bank on his campaign expertise - particularly the Congress that lacks in cadre strength and must face stiff challenge from the AIADMK in south. “Alagiri's coordinated campaign style will be used all over Tamil Nadu in this election. That is why the alliance leaders are asked to organise meetings of cadres and functionaries everywhere before beginning the campaign in their segments”, says a DMK senior leader.

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