After an influential Senthil Balaji, former AIADMK minister, from Kongu belt joined DMK last year leaving the camp of TTV Dhinakaran, yet another key face in his party Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam (AMMK), Thanga Tamilselvan, too joined the main opposition party on Friday. One of the 18 MLAs disqualified by the state assembly for their allegiance to AIADMK rebel faction, Tamilselvan was a prominent face in Dhinakaran camp who held the position of AMMK propaganda secretary after Dhinakaran and his aunt Sasikala were thrown out of AIADMK when factions led by Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami and deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam merged in 2017.
Amidst uncertainties over reports that Tamilselvan was holding talks with both the AIADMK and DMK after he had disagreements with Dhinakaran, he met DMK president M K Stalin at the DMK headquarters Anna Arivalayam on Friday noon with a handful of supporters from his native, Theni, known as the stronghold of Panneerselvam.
Revealing his plan to join the rival camp, Tamilselvan said what had inspired his decision was the leadership vacuum in AIADMK. “They lacks a single leadership and struggling to take decisions. So I didn’t want to join AIADMK,” he said, addressing media persons. He added that he was happy to join DMK for the strong leadership of Stalin, calling him a hardworking leader. He cited the example of DMK’s successful efforts under the leadership of Stalin to get the burial ground for late M Karunanidhi on Marina beach after the government tried to deny it.
In fact, ever since Tamilselvan started making critical statements about AMMK in public, Dhinakaran camp was sure of Tamilselvan’s exit. “He was unhappy for AMMK’s performance in elections. He accused at least three district leaderships of the party for not performing well. When he went onto make his opinions before media, we opposed it,” said a senior AMMK leader. Meantime, sources close to Tamilselvan said he was confused of his next plan until Thursday as there were informal talks going on with top leaders in both the DMK and AIADMK.
While Theni is traditionally considered as an AIADMK bastion for its powerful OBC Thevar votes and faces like Panneerselvam and candidature of late J Jayalalithaa and M G Ramachandran from the region in several polls, refusal of a popular Congress leader J M Aaroon Rashid’s to contest in the last Lok Sabha election, citing personal reasons, was a major set back for DMK-Congress alliance in the elections.
“Tamilselvan is not a stranger to Theni. He is not only popular in Theni but also known for his family’s political background. There were talks to facilitate his return to AIADMK but it was not materialised,” said a senior AIADMK leader. While there is an on going cold war between the factions of Panneerselvam and CM Palaniswami, who holds maximum power in the AIADMK, the ruling faction also calculated that getting Tamilselvan returning to AIADMK will help them to field a strong opponent in Theni region against Panneerselvam and his family. With the victory of Panneerselvam’s son son Raveendranath, the only AIADMP MP who won the last Lok Sabha polls, Panneerselvam faction has improved their strength in the party even though all crucial party positions and cabinet portfolios are being shared by leaders close to CM Palaniswami.
However, much before CM Palansiwami faction was able to complete talks with Tamilselvan, AIADMK leaders from Theni district, who are under the control of Panneerselvam, adopted a resolution on Thursday against admitting Tamilselvan back in the party and decided to meet CM Palaniswami on Friday.
Multiple sources confirm that this resolution had eventually led to Tamilselvan’s decision to choose DMK for his next political career. “It was a victory for Panneerselvam. Otherwise, Tamilselvan would have been a strong opponent for Panneerselvam family,” an AIADMK leader said.
And the latest development has further weakened the Dhinakaran camp that failed to perform well in the recent Lok Sabha polls and assembly bypolls.