CHENNAI: Springing a surprise on DMDK founder Vijayakant ahead of the Assembly elections, a section of the party old guard staged a rebellion against his decision to align with the People’s Welfare Alliance (PWA) instead of the DMK, a move that would hurt the morale but is far from being a mortal blow.
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Speaking to the media at a hurriedly-convened press meet in Chennai on Tuesday, the rebels - 10 senior office bearers, including three MLAs and six district secretaries led by DMDK propaganda secretary V C Chandhirakumar - charged that the decision to align with the four-party PWA went against the pulse of the cadre who wished to align with the DMK to dethrone the ruling AIADMK. They gave a 24-hour ultimatum to the party leadership to correct the coalition course; it responded by expelling all of them within a couple of hours.
Vijayakant’s allies from the PWA camp accused the DMK of engineering the defection - MDMK general secretary Vaiko recalled his own experience - while the DMK has always maintained that it had nothing to do with the trouble in the DMDK. Remember two district secretaries had quit the party to join the DMK in the recent weeks. Chandhirakumar went a step ahead to claim that “Kalaignar” would return to power even without the DMDK’s support.
Alleging that the decision to go with the PWA was taken without consultation, he said Vijayakant and Premalatha did not know the pulse of the party cadre. “The decision is suicidal for the DMDK since 95 per cent of the party cadre wanted to go with the DMK. We can’t accept this, ‘Captain’ should reverse his decision. Only then the people of Tamil Nadu as well as the DMDK can be saved from the AIADMK rule,” he said.
Chandhirakumar said the rebel group had given a nine-page letter to Vijayakant on March 24, a day after he declared alliance with the PWA, expressing displeasure over the decision. “But Captain did not respond,” he said, explaining why the uprising was a televised affair.
Underplaying the threat that this portends for the party, deputy floor leader in the Assembly, Alagapuram R Mohanraj accused the rebels of entering into a deal with the DMK. “Party cadre are with Captain, we have lost just 12 votes.”
The damage that these 12 leaders can inflict in this Assembly election is questionable. All of them are where they are because of Vijayakant. But they all came from the roots, the fans association, which was subsumed in the party when it was launched in 2005. These men were considered his loyalists, particularly V C Chandhirakumar who was Vijayakant’s confidante.
More importantly, the rebels are unlikely to go down quietly despite the expulsion. Though Chandirakumar told Express that he would spell out the next course of action when the deadline comes to an end at 12 noon on Wednesday, another MLA C H Sekar told the media, “we have some other answer to this action”, but refused to reveal further.
Within hours of the rebellion being telecast, Vijayakant expelled them and appointed new office bearers.
But all 10 rebels said that they were still with the DMDK. The tone and tenor of the dissidents at the press meet and during the interaction afterwards with a few of them indicated that they are likely to run a splinter group.