Ending days of speculation, V. Senthil Balaji, a former Transport Minister and key functionary of the T.T.V. Dhinakaran-led Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam (AMMK), joined the opposition Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) in the presence of party president M.K. Stalin and senior leaders on Friday.
Mr. Balaji, who is one of the 18 disqualified AIADMK MLAs, hit out at the government led by Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami and Deputy Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam, alleging that they were sacrificing the rights of the people of Tamil Nadu at the behest of the BJP.
“The AIADMK is a sinking ship. EPS (Palaniswami) got the post of the CM through deceit. The moment this government falls , he will go back to farming in Edappadi,” Mr. Balaji told reporters, after signing up as a primary member of the DMK.
All praise for Stalin
Curiously, Mr. Balaji did not explain why he had quit the Dhinakaran camp and instead took on the AIADMK leadership. “The EPS-OPS combine, and all the ministers are betraying the people of Tamil Nadu. I have joined the DMK today, drawn by Mr. Stalin’s charisma. The people of the State are ready to vote the DMK to power in both the Lok Sabha and the Assembly elections, and make ‘Thalapathy’ (Stalin) the Chief Minister,” he claimed.
When asked if there was a difference of opinion in the Dhinakaran camp on whether to face byelections or go in for a review in the Supreme Court challenging their disqualification, Mr. Balaji said he had pitched for byelections. A review petition would keep the “anti-people EPS-OPS combine in power and ensure they surrender the rights of Tamil Nadu till the next elections”, he claimed to have argued.
“I have worked under a leadership (Dhinakaran) and with people there. I am not in the habit of speaking ill of people whom I have worked with,” he added.
The former minister claimed that thousands of cadre, including those belonging to the AIADMK and his supporters, would join the DMK in the coming days and work towards ensuring the DMK’s victory in the next polls. Later, he said that if the DMK leadership desired to field him in the byelections, he would readily enter the fray.