Azhagiri begins campaign to 'defeat' Speaker

MADURAI, APRIL 29. The DMK in Madurai is pushed into an awkward situation with Mr.M.K. Azhagiri, Madurai-based son of the DMK chief, Mr.M. Karunanidhi, commencing his campaign against the Assembly Speaker and party candidate for the Madurai West constituency, Mr.P.T.R. Palanivel Rajan.

The stormy petrel of the DMK - Mr. Azhagiri, who had been lying low since the start of the campaign, today toured the areas falling under the constituency from where the senior DMK leader is seeking re-election.

Talking toThe Hindu, Mr. Azhagiri said he visited the houses of his supporters in the Goripalayam, Arapalayam, Melaponnagaram, Karimedu, Maninagaram, Thathaneri and Sellur areas and ``sought their support to defeat Mr.Palanivel Rajan.'' He, however, said he was not against the DMK.

Refusing to disclose the reason for his resentment against the Speaker, Mr.Azhagiri said his primary objective in the poll, would be to defeat Mr.Palanivel Rajan and quite a few `traitors' in Theni and Madurai districts.

Mr. Azhagiri earlier announced his intention to contest as independent, but dropped out of the race for reasons best known to him. The Azhagiri episode has been a matter of concern to senior leaders of the Madurai Urban DMK, including Mr. Palanivel Rajan.

When the high command tried to `isolate' him from the cadres for his `anti-party activities,' Mr. Azhagiri's supporters ran amuck, setting fire to government buses. The police arrested eight of his sympathisers, and detained them under the National Security Act. The police action provoked Mr.Azhagiri to react sharply against the high command by issuing open protest statements, condemning the disciplinary action taken against his men. He also visited them in the Madurai Central prison and presented doles to the family members at a function organised under the banner of Azhagiri Ezhuchi Peravai (Azhagiri Awakening Forum). Later many of the DMK councillors of the Madurai Corporation also quit the party to protest against the `indecent treatment' meted out to their mentor.

Inside sources say the recent stance of Mr. Azhagiri is bound to create a flutter among the DMK cadres, and the party is all set to face a fresh bout of embarrassment in Madurai and its suburban constituencies in the poll.

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