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In crisis mode, DMK to punish some leaders
By Nirmala Joseph January 03, 2018
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CHENNAI: Tamil Nadu main opposition Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) has slipped into crisis mode at a time when everything seemed to be in his favour. A strengthened presence in the state assembly and the acquittal of its leaders in the 2G scam had boosted the party, but it ended up third at RK Nagar, where a bypoll was held last month to fill the vacancy caused by the death of former chief minister J. Jayalalithaa.

The defeat has also revived the succession war in the party, with party patriarch M. Karunanidhi’s elder son MK Alagiri mounting an attack on younger brother MK Stalin whom the father had elevated as working president. Alagiri alleged that Stalin is not eligible to lead the party.

At the same time, the leadership was worried and seeking answers for the defeat of its candidate Maruthu Ganesh, a local activist with good connections in RK Nagar. The only explanation that sources close to DMK leaders could offer is that winning rebel ADMK candidate TTV Dinakaran had purchased the local leaders of DMK with huge amount of money.

DMK’s high-level strategy committee has decided to take “stern action” against party functionaries who adopted “callous attitude” during the campaign. Stalin told the media: “The meeting resolved to act against all party functionaries — be it seniors or juniors — who mismanaged the campaign that led to the defeat. Action will be taken against those who erred.” The 24,000 votes that Ganesh polled was 32,000 less than what the party’s candidate Shimla Muthuchozhan garnered against Jayalalithaa in 2016 assembly elections.

Dinakaran’s use of money power is nothing new. In fact, the bypoll originally scheduled for April 12 was cancelled after Income Tax raids found that he and other leaders of ADMK had stored huge money for distribution to voters. Dinakaran was later arrested for trying to bribe the Election Commission.

The acquittal of Stalin’s sister Kanimozhi and DMK’s Dalit face Andimuthu Raja in the 2G scam case on the day of the bypoll was expected to bring some votes, but even that might not have happened.

A day after the poll defeat, Alagiri met the media, emerging from his silence after expulsion from DMK three years ago. He didn’t mince words to attack Stalin, blaming him for continuous failure of DMK to win polls since he took charge of the party.

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