Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam’s Karnataka state Secretary and TTV Dinakharan loyalist, V Pugazhendhi returned to the AIADMK fold along with several of his supporters. Pungazhendhi rejoined the party in the presence of Chief Minister Edappadi K Palanisamy and Deputy Chief Minister O Pannerselvam at the party headquarters on Monday.
Slamming TTV Dhinakaran’s AMMK, Pugazhendhi compared the party to the Cooum river and said Dhinakaran’s party can never become the third biggest party in the state. “All these days I was floating in the Cooum River (referring to AMMK). As I am unable to bear the stench any further, I came out of it and have rejoined the party which was lead by Puratchi Thalaivar MGR and Puratchi Thalaivi Amma. More than 1,000 cadres from AMMK will return to AIADMK soon, TTV Dhinakaran’s party can never become the third biggest party in Tamil Nadu,” Pugazhendhi said to the reporters after rejoining the AIADMK.
The development comes three months after Pugazhendhi met Chief Minister Palanisamy at his residence in Salem. Pugazhendhi had then denied reports of him joining the AIADMK, saying he met the CM to congratulate him on the assembly bypoll victory.
Now, Pugazhendhi became the fourth AMMK leader to jump ship after Senthil Balaji, VP Kalairajan, and Thanga Tamilselvan joined the DMK.
மாண்புமிகு முதல்வர் திரு. எடப்பாடி கே. பழனிசாமி, மாண்புமிகு துணை முதல்வர் திரு. ஓ. பன்னீர்செல்வம் ஆகியோரை தலைமைக் கழகத்தில் இன்று அமமுக கட்சியில் இருந்து விலகிய திரு. புகழேந்தி அவர்கள் நேரில் சந்தித்து தன்னைக் கழகத்தின் அடிப்படை உறுப்பினராக இணைத்துக் கொண்டார். pic.twitter.com/ll7MC4o2sy
— AIADMK (@AIADMKOfficial) January 6, 2020
Pugazhendhi was removed from the AIADMK along with VP Kalairajan, V Muttiah, Nanjil Sampath, and CR Saraswathi for being involved in anti-party activities. Since then Pugazhendhi had remained a loyalist to former TN CM J Jayalalithaa’s close aide and confidante VK Sasikala and her nephew TTV Dhinakaran. After the 2017 RK Nagar by-poll victory, Pugazhendhi hailed Dhinakaran as Jayalalithaa’s political heir.
The friction between Dhinakaran and Pugazhendhi came out in the open after their party’s poor performance in the 2019 parliament election and the assembly by-polls. After senior leaders like Senthil Balaji, Thanga Tamilselvan left the party one by one, Pugazhendhi began to question Dhinakaran’s leadership skills and accused him of placing his priorities over the welfare of the party.
A few months ago, a video of Pugazhendhi criticising AMMK chief Dhinakaran went viral on social media. In the video, Pugazhendhi claimed that he had brought Dhinakaran, who was missing from the political scene for over 14 years, to the limelight. Dhinakaran removed Pugazhendhi as the party’s spokesperson.
In October 2019, Pugazhendhi convened a meeting where he passed a resolution disapproving of Dhinakaran’s leadership. He said even Chinamma (Sasikala) is not happy with Dhinakaran’s activities. Pugazhendhi also condemned Dhinkaran for boycotting the Vikravandi and Nanguneri by-polls. It wasn’t until November 2019 that Pugazhendhi confirmed he would be joining the AIADMK.
AMMK spokesperson CR Saraswathi told indianexpress.com that a party like AMMK doesn’t depend on Individuals and no force can bring down their party leader TTV Dhinakaran. “Pugazhendhi wanted the propaganda secretary position in the party, as he was not offered that, he left the party. We are not worried at all, the party doesn’t depend on individuals, if one Pugazhendhi walks out of the party, there are 100s of Pugazhendhi waiting in the line to join our party and serve the people. Under the leadership of Dhinakaran, our party is heading in the right direction. People believe us and the victory in rural body polls is a testament to that. True Amma followers will always stay with AMMK unlike the people who switch parties for posts,” she said.
In the recently concluded rural body elections, Dhinakaran’s AMMK sprung a surprise by winning 95 panchayat union seats.