Special Correspondent

MLAs claim party founder Ramadoss and his son Anbumani sidelined them

CHENNAI: The Pattali Makkal Katchi on Monday suffered another jolt with two more dalit party MLAs resigning from the Assembly and joining the All-India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam.

With this, the PMK strength in the Assembly is down to 16.

Even as the Assembly was in session, V. Sivakami, representing Dharapuram (Reserved), and K. Murugavel Rajan from Vandavasi (Reserved), called on AIADMK general secretary and Chief Minister Jayalalithaa at her residence and enrolled themselves as primary members of the ruling party.

Only four days ago, PMK MLA R. Krishnan, who represented Anthiyur (Reserved), joined the AIADMK in the presence of Ms. Jayalalithaa, after resigning his Assembly seat.

Harassment alleged

In a joint statement, Ms. Sivakami and Mr. Rajan said though they, as representatives of the Scheduled Castes, had once occupied important positions in the PMK, they were "sidelined by party founder S. Ramadoss and his son R. Anbumani." They claimed they were harassed and deprived of their rights. They also accused Dr. Ramadoss and Dr. Anbumani of running "family politics."

The MLAs claimed that in view of the prevailing situation, they had been maintaining a low profile in the PMK. The party did not seek their views. Since the PMK legislature party also did not allow them to take part in any debate in the Assembly, they had voluntarily resigned their seats. Justifying their decision to join the AIADMK, they said Ms. Jayalalithaa was "leading the State in the right direction, besides being a protector of the Dalits."

While Mr. Krishnan's resignation had come as a bolt from the blue for the PMK leadership, it was not surprised by the action of Ms. Sivakami and Mr. Rajan, party sources said. Though the legislators occupied important posts at one time - Ms. Sivakami was the State women's wing president and Mr. Murugavel Rajan, deputy general secretary of the PMK - they became estranged from the party leadership several months ago, they added.

Party president G.K. Mani, in a statement, accused the two MLAs of having betrayed the faith reposed in them by Dr. Ramadoss. "People will never forgive their betrayal. The defection of the two legislators into the AIADMK will not cause any ripple in the PMK," Mr Mani said, adding that the two had been supporting the ruling party since 2001.