As the body of K.N.Ramajeyam, brother of former Transport Minister K.N.Nehru, who was brutally murdered here on Thursday, was cremated on Friday party men bemoaned his indifference to his own safety.

DMK leaders, including M.K.Stalin, party treasurer, M.K.Alagiri, Union Minister, former Union Minister Dayanidhi Maran, and Kanimozhi, MP, paid homage to Ramajeyam, indicating the proximity he and Mr. Nehru enjoyed with the top rung of the party leadership.

Though Ramajeyam's murder was reminiscent of several political murders of some of the other DMK leaders such as former Ministers T. Krishnan and Aladi Aruna (all of them were killed during their morning walks), a section of cadres are inclined to believe that Ramajayam faced a greater threat from professional enemies than political rivals.

Ramajeyam's writ ran in the city whenever the DMK was in power though he never held any party position. Notwithstanding his discreet methods, he held enormous clout both within the party and in the administration here under DMK regimes.

A majority of Mr. Nehru's supporters were also staunch loyalists of Ramajeyam. DMK cadre referred to him only as ‘MD' (as he was managing director of his business, Janani group) and never by name. Many of them preferred to approach him for solving professional or business disputes.

His influence steadily grew in reach coinciding with Mr.Nehru's ascendance in the party since the mid-1990s. He diversified into real estate, education and a slew of other businesses in recent years.

Apart from two cases of land grab, he faced a case of threatening a realtor in the city . Soon after the cases were booked under the present government, Ramajeyam attempted to leave the country via Kochi but was detained by Immigration authorities and handed over to police last September.

His CARE group of educational institutions, run under the G. Narayanan Educational Trust chaired by him, had expanded rapidly in recent years. The very location of the colleges on the Dindigul Highway had stirred a controversy with a section of farmers alleging that the alignment of a proposed by-pass road to be laid between the Madurai, Dindigul and Karur national highways was changed to be kept away from the institution campus.

Early on Thursday morning, when news spread about Ramajeyam going missing most party cadres tended to believe that he was probably whisked away by police for enquiry regarding one case or other. Most of them did not believe that he could be abducted.