Sharp differences between two Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam strongmen – S. S. Palanimanickam, Union Minister of State for Finance, and T. R. Baalu, MP – came out in the open on Saturday, with the former accusing Mr. Baalu of sidelining him while announcing railway projects taken up in Thanjavur district.

The Union Minister alleged that Mr. Baalu was trying to give an impression that he (Mr. Palanimanickam) was not doing anything for the Thanjavur Parliamentary constituency and that the latter alone was bringing development projects to it.

Mr. Palanimanickam represents Thanjavur constituency for the fifth time in a row, while Mr. Baalu, a native of Mannargudi in Thanjavur, has been elected from Sriperumbudur constituency. Mr. Baalu’s son, T.R.B. Raja, is the Mannargudi MLA.

“Sriperumbudur is Mr. Baalu’s constituency and let him concentrate on that. But when he does something good to Thanjavur, let him have the courtesy to inform us, as I am the local MP and the district secretary of the DMK, to which Mr. Baalu also belongs”, the Union Minister said. Talking to mediapersons here, Mr. Palanimanickam regretted that Mr. Baalu, Chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Railways, had recently announced without consulting him that there would be a new railway line between Thanjavur and Pattukottai.

“I was the first to put forth this demand before the Railway Ministry on the Thanjavur–Pattukottai rail link.”

He said he had discussed the new railway line with the people of Pattukottai during a meeting held a few months ago. At that meeting, it was also decided to take up gauge conversion work between Tiruvarur and Pattukottai via Tiruthuraipoondi. The Railway Board has sanctioned Rs. seven lakh as initial amount to conduct the survey in the Thanjavur – Pattukottai section. The Minister said he had written a letter to Railway Minister C. P. Joshi to introduce an overnight express train from Thanjavur to Chennai on the main line.

Mr. Palanimanickam alleged that the projects announced by Mr. Baalu as Union Minister were left halfway through.