In a sudden twist, Congress ticket aspirant for Chidambaram seat K I Maniratnam jumped ship and joined the PMK on Saturday, which promptly decided to field him from that constituency after withdrawing its earlier candidate here. A formal announcement is expected soon.
Maniratnam had lobbied hard for the Congress ticket, but the party high command last week chose former MP Vallalperuman instead. An apparently upset Maniratnam met Vanniyar Sangam State president J Guru at his Kaduvetti residence on Saturday afternoon. Later he announced that he had joined the PMK.
His induction into the PMK is interesting as he is a Dalit, a communuty that does not exactly share great vibes with the Vanniyars. A few days ago, a group of Dalits had attacked a PMK candidate’s convoy while he was campaigning in Vandavasi. Therefore, the induction indicates Maniratnam’s sizeable clout in the area.
During the afternoon meeting with Guru, Maniratnam said, “There is no respect for true field workers in the Congress. Tamil Nadu Congress Committee president Gnanadesikan had assured that I would get the Chidambaram ticket. But the All India Congress Committee announced Vallalperuman’s name instead. I have been doing service to the poor and downtrodden for the past four years. If I get political power, I can broaden the sweep of my service activities. So I decided to join hands with PMK founder Ramadoss, Anbumani Ramadoss and Guru. I am surprised they have decided to announce me as the candidate.”
Jayankondam MLA J Guru said, “We have decided to announce Maniratnam as the PMK candidate for Chidambaram constituency. Formal announcement would come from our party president G K Mani. Maniratnam is already familiar with the people of this area. We will strive to make Maniratnam win with a huge margin.”
A few months ago, the PMK had named Gopalakrishnan as its candidate for Chidambaram. He had hit the campaign trail as well. Political observers feel Maniratnam’s candidature may not impact the Dalit vote bank in a big way but the PMK and the DMDK could get enthusiastic because Maniratnam is a well-known businessman in this area.
“If the PMK and the DMDK work hard, Maniratnam can give the VCK’s sitting member of Parliament Thirumavalavan a run for his money,” they feel.