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Poll pangs: Dissidence stalks Dravidian parties

Written by: Staff
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Chennai, Apr 4: Even as the battle lines are being drawn for the May 8 Assembly elections in Tamil Nadu and the campaign hotting up, the two fronts are facing problems.

The perception that AIADMK Supremo and Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa had total grip over her party turned out to be a mirage when the party witnessed open rebellion over selection of candidates for some constituencies.

If dissidence forced Ms Jayalalithaa to change candidates in as many as nine seats, including two in Pondicherry, the situation in the rival DMK camp is no better.

Known for its discipline, the DMK had its share of embarrassing moments when partymen openly protested against allocation of their favourite seats to allies and when they were denied the ticket.

More shocking was Tiruvarur MLA A Ashokan resigning from the party and joining the AIADMK after he was denied the ticket for re-election from the reserved constituency.

Considered a close confidante of DMK Deputy General Secretary M K Stalin, Mr Ashokan had always been vociferous in his attack against the AIADMK in the Assembly and therefore when he joined the rival camp, the shock was palpable.

The trouble in the DMK camp began soon after it released the list of seats allocated for its allies.

Former party MLA A G Sampath set the ball rolling by quitting the party and "dissolving" the local unit.

He was hurt when the DMK allocated Mugaiyur, from which he intended to seek election, to the Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK).

Hailing from a hardcore DMK family, Mr Sampath had twice represented the constituency. His father A Govindasamy had served as Agriculture Minister in Chief Minister C N Annadurai's Cabinet.

Mr Sampath's agitated supporters gave vent to their anger by bringing down DMK flag posts and burning party chief M Karuananidhi in effigy at Mugaiyur prompting DMK General Secretary and veteran leader K Anbazhagan to issue a stern warning to the dissidents, in vain.

Much to the chagrin of the leadership, DMK volunteers protested against the allocation of Thiruvidaimaruthur seat to the PMK. A party man cut off his index finger in a fit of rage while another tonsured his head.

In Thiruvonam, the discontent was over the choice of Mr Mahesh Krishnasamy as the DMK nominee overlooking the claims of two-time MLA M Ramachandran. The AIADMK, too, saw open rebellions forcing Ms Jayalalithaa to replace Sivagami Vincent who defected from the PMK and joined the AIADMK recently, for Dharapuram constituency.

At Orleanpet in Pondicherry, AIADMK volunteers staged a protest against the choice of actor Anantharaj in place of Mr G Nehru, who was originally fielded by the party. At one stage, police had to use mild force to clear the agitating crowd.

In Nagercoil, AIADMK MLA S Austin announced his decision to quit the party and contest independently. Similar protests cropped up in several other constituencies.

Though it is no different in Marumalarchi DMK and Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK), the resistance had not come out in the open so far.

The PMK could not find a candidate for Pennagaram and had to swap the seat with the DMK for Dharmapuri.

PMK president G K Mani moved from Pennagaram to Mettur and reportedly failed in his bid to secure a seat for his son.

Former MLA S A Chellakumar was suspended from the party for instigating his supporters to burn AICC General Secretary Veerappa Moily the effigy for his(Moily's) failure to get "winnable constituencies" from the DMK.

Congressmen had already came to blows over allocation of seats.

With the party yet to come out with the candidates list, it is anybody's guess on what the future holds for it.

UNI

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