It is unbecoming of district secretary to go public: senior leaders

Internal rivalry is not uncommon in the DMK, but nobody in the past has gone public with allegations against a senior colleague within the party as Union Minister of State for Finance S.S. Palanimanickam has done against former minister T.R. Baalu.

Mr. Palanimanickam’s diatribe against Mr. Baalu in Thanjavur on Saturday has shocked the DMK leadership, particularly party president M. Karunanidhi, party sources said on Sunday.

“This is unprecedented and it is unbecoming of a district secretary to vent his ire against a senior colleague of the party publicly. Of course, we have witnessed sharp differences between our party founder C.N. Annadurai and E.V.K. Sampath and later between Kalaignar and MGR. But such differences were confined to leadership issues and resulted in the birth of new parties. The second line of leaders generally abstained from washing dirty linen in public under the present leadership,” a former DMK Minister told The Hindu.

Many DMK leaders said there was a cold war between Mr. Palanimanickam and Mr. Baalu as the latter nurtured ideas of contesting from the Thanjavur Lok Sabha constituency. The manner in which he sought to make inroads into the constituency with railway schemes irritated Mr. Palanimanickam, who is also the party’s district secretary. Mr. Baalu is chairman of the Parliamentary standing committee on railways.

Mr. Palanimanickam’s question is why Mr Baalu is showing undue interest in another constituency instead of his own (Sriperumbudur). Mr. Baalu has already succeeded in getting the Mannargudi Assembly seat, a segment under Thanjavur Lok Sabha coinstituency, for his son T.R.B. Raaja.

“This does not warrant a public debate. Mr. Palanimanickam could have approached the party leadership to sort out the differences. But the leadership also should have intervened long before the issue assumed such proportions,” said another senior leader. Differences of opinion among the second-level leaders, especially in the districts, are very common in the DMK. In Tirunelveli, it is former Speaker R. Avudaiyappan vs Karuppasamy Pandian, who came to the party from the AIADMK. The tussle between former ministers E.V. Velu and K Pichandi in Tiruvannamalai district is no secret. In Ramanathapuram district, actor-turned-MP J.K. Ritheesh, is emerging as a challenge to district secretary Suba. Thangavelan and they hardly see eye to eye. Former Minister K.N. Nehru has many rivals in the party in Tiruchi district.

“But none of these leaders has gone to the media and levelled allegations against one another. In fact, DMK treasurer M.K. Stalin travelled across the State and brought together warring groups in many districts before the 2006 Assembly elections. But, now Mr. Palanimanickam has crossed the Lakshman rekha,” said a former Minister.

Meanwhile, Mr. Palanimanickam called on Mr. Karuananidhi at his CIT Colony residence and explained his position.