DISSIDENT DMK MP J K Ritheesh, who had emerged as a surprise choice last time to represent coastal Ramanathapuram only because of the backing of expelled DMK leader M K Alagiri, on Thursday joined the ruling AIADMK in the presence of its general secretary and Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa.
With only two weeks left for the general elections, the ruling party also managed to lure a number of lower-rung leaders of opposition parties including DMK and DMDK, besides enlisting the support of a host of caste-based outfits.
Ritheesh alias K Shivakumar had shocked all including party cadre when he emerged as the DMK candidate in 2009. He then had the support of Alagiri, the elder son of party president M Karunanidhi who once lorded over south Tamil Nadu. The echoes of the rivalry between Alagiri and his younger brother and Karunanidhi’s heir-apparent, M K Stalin, were heard in the coastal district where repeated clashes occurred between the supporters of Ritheesh and party veteran Suba Thangavelan.
When Alagiri was suspended from the party recently, Ritheesh was one of the three elected members to meet him in open defiance to the party leadership.