Azhagiri back with a bang

MADURAI, NOV 1. The surprise election of Mr. T. Chinnasamy of the DMK as Deputy Mayor of the Madurai Corporation is hailed as a ``strategic win'' by the supporters of the former Chief Minister's son, Mr. M. K. Azhagiri. When everyone expected a cakewalk for the AIADMK nominee what with the strength of the support enjoyed by the party in the council, Mr. Chinnasamy won yesterday's cliffhanger by two votes.

The former Minister, Mr. Pon. Muthuramalingam, said the victory reflected that Mr. Azhagiri could achieve anything for the party. ``If he takes up a task, he will not sleep until it is accomplished,'' Mr. Muthuramalingam said. This is a significant win for the DMK as it was achieved against all odds, after the AIADMK pulled off a coup, snaring Mr. Azhagiri's staunch supporter and former Deputy Mayor, Mr. M. Pandian, into its fold. This happened after the local DMK leaders claimed that Mr. Pandian had come back to the party after meeting Mr. Karunanidhi. At that time, the AIADMK was comfortably placed with the support of 37 councillors.

The DMK win has come immediately after the reunion of Mr. Azhagiri with the party, though the family reunion took place following the arrest of Mr. Karunanidhi in June last. This is a pointer to who will call the shots in the party in the southern districts hereafter. Even when the high command issued a diktat last September to the DMK members asking them to distance themselves from Mr. Azhagiri, almost all top leaders refused to burn their bridges with him. They were only waiting for the formal reunion to happen.

The rank and file in the southern districts are eager to know what will come out of this unexpected win. A section looks at it as the beginning of the process of Mr. Azhagiri and his supporters regaining control of the party in this region. There is also the view that Mr. Azhagiri has demonstrated his loyalty to the party by getting the DMK nominee win, thereby setting at rest all doubts over his home-coming.

The equations within the party are likely to be altered with his supporters projecting Mr. Azhagiri as the ``saviour of the DMK in the south''. The impact of this act will be seen in other district units, especially Virudhunagar and Tirunelveli. At present, the supporters are jubilant as he has re-entered the party with a bang.

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