Nation Current Affairs 15 Dec 2018 TTV Dhinakaran loses ...

TTV Dhinakaran loses key aide Senthil Balaji to DMK

Published Dec 15, 2018, 6:06 am IST
Updated Dec 15, 2018, 6:55 am IST
Senthil Balaji presenting a shawl to DMK president  M.K. Stalin. (Photo: DC)
 Senthil Balaji presenting a shawl to DMK president M.K. Stalin. (Photo: DC)

Chennai: Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam suffered a setback on Friday with its organising secretary Senthil Balaji crossing over to the DMK and presenting a shawl to its president M K Stalin. But AMMK chief TTV Dhinakaran appeared unfazed while insisting that Balaji's exit would not hurt his party because "a people's movement will not be affected by the defection of some persons".

"Engirunthalum vaazhga," quipped TTV, wishing his "younger brother well". That the DMK had made Balaji's defection such a big event "says it all", he said, adding, "Ever since their candidate lost his deposit in the RK Nagar elections, they have been wanting do something".

After joining the DMK in the presence of Stalin at the party headquarters Anna Arivalayam here, Balaji said he was inspired by Stalin's good work and hard commitment, besides his strong conviction in taking on both the AIADMK in TN and the BJP at the Centre. While he slammed the AIADMK, calling it "a sinking ship", Balaji refrained from making any critical remarks against TTV, saying he quit the AMMK only because of some differences.

Hailing Stalin's leadership qualities, Balaji said, "I joined the DMK, respecting the aspirations of the people of Karur district. The AIADMK government led by Palaniswami and (deputy chief minister) O Panneerselvam is anti-people and only toes the BJP's line," he told reporters. The AIADMK was a "sinking ship" and more functionaries would soon quit it to join the DMK, he said.

"Tamil Nadu people will not only vote for DMK in the Lok Sabha polls in 2019, but also give the mandate to the party and make Stalin the Chief Minister in the next Assembly elections due in 2021, Balaji said.

Reacting to Balaji joining the DMK, Chief Minister K Palaniswami said the 'betrayer' had forgotten how he had achieved recognition as the state transport minister only because of the AIADMK and its leader Jayalalithaa. "Only some selfish people with no following are going to other parties; no loyal and honest worker has left us", he told reporters at Salem, adding, "It's just funny that Senthil Balaji has termed the AIADMK as a sinking ship".

Senthil Balaji, who was transport minister during 2011-16 in the Jaya regime, is one of the 18 AIADMK MLAs disqualified by Speaker P Dhanapal for petitioning Governor Banwarilal Purohit to sack CM Palaniswami. The Karur strongman had been a prominent member of the TTV camp but appeared to have drifted apart in recent weeks, causing rumours of his intention to join the DMK, of which he was once a member before crossing over to the AIADMK.

TTV said he would not have bothered if Balaji he had joined the AIADMK. "I Wouldn't have been surprised if he had joined EPS (Palaniswami). How can he join DMK as the anti-DMK feeling is in our blood? The DMK had filed the case against Amma," he said, alluding to the disproportionate assets case against Jayalalithaa. He recalled Balaji informing him some months back that he would "stay away" from party activities due to "personal issues."

On Thursday, TTV had launched a veiled attack on Balaji, saying none would repent if some with selfish interests were to quit the AMMK. Comparing dedicated AMMK workers to "true gold," he said no one would repent if gold plated "fake" were to move out of the party. "Our foundation is Amma's (Jayalalithaa) ideals, and people's welfare is our task," he had said.

Meanwhile, political observers here feel that Balaji's defection assumes significance as it comes amid reports that TTV is finding it hard to keep his flock together in the backdrop of the October 25 Madras High Court verdict, upholding Tamil Nadu Assembly Speaker P Dhanapal's order disqualifying his flock of 18 AIADMK MLAs. Some reports have claimed that not all the disqualified MLAs are happy with TTV's decision to not appeal against the HC order.

Prominent member of TTV camp Vetrivel, however, said the AMMK "is as strong as ever and this exit of Senthil Balaji along with just about 40 or 50 of his associates will not affect us at all".



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