S. Senthilkumar of DMDK shifted his office to a nearby building

Tiruverumbur MLA S. Senthilkumar of DMDK cuts a forlorn figure these days. After suspending him from the Assembly for six months for allegedly assaulting a party MLA purportedly for switching allegiance to the ruling party, the government promptly sealed Mr. Senthilkumar’s office where he used to interact with people every day.

In only a matter of days after suspension, he shifted his office to a nearby building owned by a party functionary, but Mr. Senthilkumar makes no bones about his frustration over the dwindling numbers of visitors.

“They (the people) have probably realised that officials are deliberately unresponsive to the petitions I forward to them. I am unable to talk to officials who apparently fear retribution if they are seen as being accommodative to my requests,” he said candidly.

“Initially, when my party had a good rapport with the government, I used to forward to officials several petitions from people pertaining to family cards, old age pension, and marriage assistance. They used to respond positively. Now, the punishment to me means that my electorate bears the brunt,” Mr. Senthilkumar said expressing disgust over the predicament he finds himself in.

The MLA rued that the punishment of six-month suspension for just moving out of his seat was quite harsh, citing instances in the past when members who had caused damage to property in the Assembly and even inflicted bleeding injuries on their opponents escaped with much lesser duration of suspension. “The ulterior motive is clear. The ruling party intends to browbeat DMDK MLAs into submission and make them switch camps. Since that has not happened, it has vented its ire.”

Mr. Senthilkumar, however, says he is partly relieved that the suspension has put to an end the speculation of him joining the AIADMK. “I reckon that my being a first-time MLA is the cause for the speculative talk that I would switch camp. But, I am not like the others,” he said, referring to some of his party’s other first-time MLAs who had called on the Chief Minister.

He added, “I am still doing my part. I have already given to the government authorities the work estimates for the activities to be carried out with the Rs. 2 crore constituency development fund. I keep talking to reluctant officials on behalf of people and request them to fulfill their demands on purely humanitarian grounds, if not out of a sense of obligation.”