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June 28, 2000
DMK legislator joins AIADMK
Our Correspondent in Madurai
M Muthuramalingam, a ruling DMK legislator from Tirumangalam constituency, has crossed over to the AIADMK, in a move that could kick-start the campaign for assembly elections next year.
He joined the AIADMK in the presence of party chief and former chief minister J Jayalalitha in Madras, and charged the state government with doing nothing but launch motivated cases against her.
Muthuramaligam's charges against the DMK may come as a convenient tool for the AIADMK leadership, which has taken a similar line even in court cases pending against Jayalalitha.
Answering the judge's queries in the Tansi land scam case earlier this week, Jayalalitha had said that the Karunanidhi government had foisted the case against her, for the chief minister to anoint his son M K Stalin, a mayor, as successor, defeating the democratic process and using the judicial forum.
Muthuramalingam's 'defection' has shocked the DMK leadership, which is yet to reconcile itself to the fact of a party legislator crossing over to the AIADMK, months ahead of the assembly polls. "This could sent wrong signals to cadres and voters," admitted a party veteran, who added that the leadership may now have to consider the option of early polls.
This, in turn, may put the DMK leadership in a quandary. "It's like the old Tamil fable of an old woman and a sparrow," said the DMK leader. "If we advance polls, Jayalalitha is sure to claim that we are afraid of her growing 'popularity' even among DMK legislators. If we don't, she will have something on similar lines."
The DMK is unsure of how to handle the situation. It can either ignore the 'defection' or approach assembly Speaker P T R Palanivel Rajan to get Muthuramaligam declared 'unattached'.
The Speaker is not bound to take notice of developments outside the assembly and there could be no way of Muthuramalingam being allotted a seat in the AIADMK benches.
The AIADMK is sure to use Muthuramalingam to embarrass the DMK leadership, particularly in the assembly. He can also be expected to make charges of nepotism and favouritism in government deals in Madurai district, blaming them on M K Alagiri. "Some of it may stick, definitely, but most will be treated as an exaggeration from a frustrated politician," claimed another DMK legislator from the district.
Muthuramalingam was known to hobnob with AIADMK leaders, including party presidium chairman K Kalimuthu, Dr Jayalalitha Peravai and convenor T T V Dinakaran, who also represents the Periyakulam seat in the Lok Sabha.
Dinakaran, a nephew of Jayalalitha's live-in confidante Sasikala Natarajan, is said to be instrumental in Muthuramalingam's crossover, and he and Kalimuthu were present when the DMK legislator met Jayalalitha.
Indications are that Muthuramalingam, a kin of Kalimuthu, was not accepted into the inner circle of Alagiri, son of party chief and state Chief Minister M Karunanidhi, based in Madurai.
Simultaenously, he felt left out by his Thevar community, which has become suspect in the DMK's eyes as it is perceived to be close to the AIADMK, thanks to the 'family connections' of Sasikala Natarajan.
Sources close to the legislator say that he just attended a family function of Kalimuthu, a relative and neighbour. Dinakaran was also present and the local media "made a big fuss about it". While Karunanidhi pleaded ignorance about the incident, Dinakaran said it was a social call involving family members, where he happened to be present.
According to the sources, the DMK chief is not known to be taking kindly to partymen hobnobbing with AIADMK leaders. "Jayalalitha, like M G Ramachandran, had used this 'weakness' of Karunanidhi to her benefit," they claim, pointing out how then DMK legislator K Subbu was forced to cross over to the AIADMK after Karunanidhi was informed of his luncheon meeting with then chief minister MGR.
"It was obviously a ploy of MGR that worked," rues friends of Subbu, a former communist, who after an innings in the AIADMK and Congress, is now back in the DMK.
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