Loyalists of Periasamy, Anita Radhakrishnan fight for seats on stage

Factionalism in the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) came to the fore at a public meeting in Tuticorin on Saturday night, much to the chagrin of Kanimozhi, Rajya Sabha MP, who was the main speaker for the occasion.

While the never-ending political rivalry between N. Periasamy, long-time district secretary of the DMK, and Anita R. Radhakrishnan, former Minister and Tiruchendur MLA, who defected from the AIADMK three years ago, has been an open secret all along, it had never been on public display.

But, much to the embarrassment of the DMK leadership, that was exactly what happened at the public meeting organised to explain the important decisions taken at the party’s recently held general council meeting, including the snapping of ties with the Congress.

As the DMK’s local leaders were waiting on the dais for the arrival of Ms. Kanimozhi, scheduled to address in the public meeting held at Anna Nagar, Mr. Radhakrishnan arrived at the venue with his supporters, including Tuticorin district youth wing deputy organiser ‘Billa’ Jegan, former supporter of Mr. Periasamy.

Trouble began brewing on the dais immediately as the loyalists of Mr. Periasamy stopped Mr. Radhakrishnan and Mr. Jegan from occupying their seats on the stage. With the sloganeering and heckling of the supporters of Mr. Periasamy creating an awkward situation at the venue, the duo left the place in a huff and returned when Ms. Kanimozhi arrived at the venue.

Oblivious to the presence of important leaders on the stage, the sloganeering against Mr. Radhakrishnan and Mr. Jegan went on. For a second time, the two DMK leaders were prevented from getting on to the dais, where Mr. Periasamy and his daughter and also former Minister Geetha Jeevan were seated.

Eventually, it was because of Ms. Kanimozhi’s swift intervention that the acrimonious exchanges between the two factions stopped. “We’re organising this meeting following an instruction from ‘Thalaivar Kalaignar’, and hence there is no room for any unpleasant incidents here,” she said in a commanding voice that abruptly silenced the slogan-raising section of the crowd.

In the end though Mr. Radhakrishnan managed to occupy a seat on the stage, while Mr. Jegan had to sit along in the audience.

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