Tamil Nadu 2016

A family feud continues to define this poll battle

Veerapandi in Salem district has been the citadel of one family for the past five decades.

Of the 13 elections held since 1957, the families of the late DMK strongman ‘Veerapandi’ S. Arumugam and his step brother S. Palaniappan, whose family owes allegiance to the AIADMK, have been in the fray ten times and won nine of them.

This time the contest is between Arumugam’s son ‘Veerapandi’ A. Rajendran, who heads the Opposition party’s Salem East district unit, and his cousin and S. Palaniappan’s daughter S. Manomani of the AIADMK.

How did the family rivalry begin?

The story starts with a local satrap named Solai Gounder whose two wives bore him four sons — the first wife gave birth to S. Palaniappan and S. Kandasamy, while S. Arumugam and S. Kuppusamy are the second wife’s sons.

Arumugam, attracted by Anna’s speeches, joined the DMK at a very young age.

He tasted success in his maiden attempt in electoral politics, winning the election from Veerapandi in 1962. He went on to repeat the feat in 1967 and 1971.

But, Arumugam and Palaniappan got into a fight over a family property in 1970, leading to irreconcilable differences. To counter Arumugam’s influence, Palaniappan and his son ‘Poolavari’ Sukumaran joined the newly launched AIADMK led by MGR.

A year later the two were shot dead when they were travelling back to their village on a two-wheeler.

Arumugam and Kuppusamy were accused, but were later acquitted by the court.

The feud was revived when MGR fielded P. Vijayalakshmi Palanisamy, Sukumaran’s sister, from the constituency in 1980.

Ms. Palanisamy ended up winning both that election and the one four years later.

Direct face-off

The family members, however, faced off directly in the poll arena for the first time during the 2001 election and it has been a see-saw battle since then.

In 2001, S.K. Selvam defeated Arumugam, his uncle, by 30,000 votes, while five years later Mr. Rajendran overcame the challenge from Ms. Palanisamy.

In 2011, Mr. Selvam defeated Mr. Rajendran. In fact, during that election the fight spilled over to the neighbouring Sankagiri constituency, where Ms. Palanisamy defeated Arumugam by a comfortable margin.

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Printable version | Mar 4, 2021 9:50:28 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/elections/tamilnadu2016/a-family-feud-continues-to-define-this-poll-battle/article8531238.ece

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