Meeting evokes curiosity in view of the forthcoming Rajya Sabha elections
Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam MLA R. Santhi called on Chief Minister and All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam general secretary Jayalalithaa at the Secretariat on Wednesday, taking the number of rebel MLAs to six.
Ms. Santhi, representing Senthamangalam constituency of the Namakkal district, told reporters later that in her meeting with the Chief Minister, she gave a petition on development works in her constituency. She also greeted Ms. Jayalalithaa on completion of two years in office. The MLA refused to answer questions on the status of her relationship with her party.
Since the DMDK and the AIADMK fell apart openly in February last year, five DMDK MLAs – R. Sundarrajan (Madurai Central Assembly); K. Tamil Azhagan (Tittakudi in Cuddalore district); C. Arun Pandian (Peravurani in Thanjavur); Michael Royappan (Radhapuram in Tirunelveli) and T. Suresh Kumar (Chengam in Tiruvannamalai) – met the Chief Minister in October 2012 and February 2013.
On February 8 this year, the Assembly witnessed an unsavoury scene when MLAs loyal to the DMDK leadership got into fisticuffs with the rebel MLAs, who spoke in support of the AIADMK. A month later, six DMDK MLAs were suspended for one year originally, but the quantum of punishment was reduced to six months subsequently.
Even though the five rebel MLAs in the House are seated separately, the official strength of the DMDK remains at 29. It is because of this position that the party is regarded as the principal Opposition party.
The Wednesday meeting evoked greater curiosity in view of the forthcoming Rajya Sabha elections, which may be held in June to fill vacancies for six seats.
Predictably, the Namakkal district unit of the DMDK criticised Ms. Santhi for her action. “She has betrayed the party. We were clueless about her move, as there were no issues with her,” P. Sampathkumar, Tiruchengode MLA and Namakkal district secretary of the DMDK, said.
Claiming that he came to know of the meeting only through the media, Mr. Sampathkumar said he would not even have to discuss this matter with founder Vijayakant or other leaders as “our leader has already instructed us clearly not to get in touch with those who have betrayed our party nor stop those who want to leave the party. We have good persons in our party”.
The Hindu’s efforts to contact Ms. Santhi were in vain. Her husband Rajamanickam, a government school teacher, answered calls on her behalf. He said that her meeting with the Chief Minister was for the development of her constituency. It did not have any political motive, he said.
Ms. Santhi, one of the two DMDK MLAs from Namakkal, is the secretary of the party’s district women’s wing. Till 2005, she remained with the AIADMK, after which she joined the DMDK. In the 2006 Assembly elections, she contested unsuccessfully from Senthamangalam.