“Can my soft-hearted nature be taken for granted?”

Two days after Union Minister of State for Finance S.S. Palanimanickam openly criticised senior leader T.R. Baalu, DMK president M. Karunanidhi made a fervent plea for unity in the party, wondering whether party men could take him for granted just because he adopted a “forgive and forget” policy.

In a statement here, he said Mr. Palanimanickam met him a few days ago and lodged a complaint against Mr. Baalu. He had asked him to give everything in writing to the party leadership.

“Why was he in a hurry? Why did he talk to the media? I am moving with everyone in a friendly manner and can this be considered a weakness?” he said.

Mr. Karunanidhi said he lost a night’s sleep after he was informed about Mr. Palanimanickam’s press conference by party MP T.K.S. Elangovan.

He regretted that while in some political parties even the senior-most leaders faced the wrath of the high-command and were sidelined, he could not behave in a similar manner. “Can my soft-hearted nature be taken for granted?” he asked.

He wondered what ought to be his priority — saving the party from the onslaught of the opposition or from internal squabbling.

Mr. Karunanidhi said he could be approached if there were any issues and party men could also make a representation to the high-command.

“If every district witnesses similar diatribes, there will be no end to the squabbling,” he warned.

He recalled a meeting convened a few days ago to discuss the internal problems in the Thanjavur district unit and the plea for unity made by former Minister Duraimurugan, who had noted that the unified Thanjavur district was his (Mr. Karunanidhi’s) home district and that the every word from the leader should be treated as gospel. However, the same district had brought shame to the party.

He also invoked the name of late leaders such as Mannai Narayanasamy, Mayuram Kittappa and Kumbakonam Neelamegam to drive home the point that the present situation could not have arisen had they been alive.

Mr. Karunanidhi said if former Minister and district secretary Ko. Si. Mani was in good health, these developments would not have reached the media.

He said a few years ago when Mr. Baalu criticised the ruling party in Parliament for announcing a scheme for West Bengal, but was originally meant for Tamil Nadu, MPs from that State tried to attack him and it was Mr. Palanimanickam who shielded him from the onslaught.

“If someone had targeted Mr. Palanimanickam, Mr. Baalu would have rushed to his aid. Where has that feeling disappeared?” he said and pleaded for unity, saying both Mr. Palanimanickam and Mr. Baalu had their political grooming under Murasoli Maran.

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