Parithi Elamvazhuthi and E. Ponnusamy, two prominent Dalit faces of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) and Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) respectively, joined the All India Anna Dravida Kazhagam in the presence of the party general secretary and Chief Minister Jayalalithaa on Friday.
The two leaders met Chief Minister Jayalalithaa and became members of the party, according to an AIADMK press release. Ms Jayalalithaa later left for Kothagiri, from where she would carry out her official work for a few weeks.
For the last two years, the 53-year-old Elamvazhuthi, who had been with the DMK nearly for 30 years and who had represented the Egmore Assembly constituency since 1989, was maintaining a low profile after he quit as deputy general secretary in October 2011. He had developed differences of opinion with the DMK leadership, particularly party treasurer M.K. Stalin, over the issue of disciplinary action against a few party functionaries of Egmore.
Mr Elamvazhuthi told The Hindu that there was no respect in the DMK for those who had toiled hard for years. Contending that the party was governed by “family rule,” he referred to the party securing support of the Congress for the re-election of Kanimozhi in the Rajya Sabha elections. “When the DMK had announced its withdrawal from the [Congress-led] Union government [in March], crackers were burst at the Arivalayam [DMK’s headquarters]. But, they [DMK leadership] have taken support from the same Congress now,” he pointed out. Praising Ms Jayalalithaa for her administration and leadership, he said she was known for making bold decisions.
Mr Elamvazhuthi shot into prominence during 1991-1996 when he, as one of the two DMK MLAs in the Assembly, sought to corner the AIADMK government. He became Deputy Speaker when the DMK came to power in 1996. In November 2003, he was arrested for having committed breach of privilege of the Assembly. When the DMK returned to power in 2006, he became Minister for Information and Urban Development. In the 2011 Assembly elections, Mr Elamvazhuthi lost to K. Nallathambi of the Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam (DMDK), which was then part of the coalition led by the AIADMK.
A former Union government employee, 76-year-old Ponnusamy was associated with the PMK for about 15 years. Elected from the Chidambaram Lok Sabha constituency in 1999 and 2004, he was Union Minister of State for Petroleum and Natural Gas during 1999-2001 when the PMK was part of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance government. In the 2009 Lok Sabha elections, he lost to Thol. Thirumavalavan of the Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK).
Mr Ponnusamy, who quit the party in January this year, said the PMK had begun to alienate itself from different sections of society by raking up the Vanniya card after the 2009 Lok Sabha polls. “Its position on the issue concerning the marriage of Divya-Illavarasan of Dharmapuri was the last straw’’, he said. However, he said he had no problem personally with PMK leaders and he was grateful to S. Ramadoss, PMK founder, for having given him many opportunities to serve people of the State.
He claimed that though he had received offers from the Congress, the VCK and the BJP, he chose to join the AIADMK as he felt that “Ms Jayalalithaa has solved the Cauvery issue through her dedication and determination.” She has been handling other issues too "admirably and efficiently." The former MP added that he placed no demands with the AIADMK.