DMK insiders say that after the success of the Senthil Balaji operation, the party is eyeing other leaders whose defection to DMK can lend a blow to both AIADMK and TTV-led AMMK.

After Senthil Balaji will the DMK attempt to drag Thanga Tamilselvan into its foldImage: Youtube/Dinamalar
news Politics Saturday, December 15, 2018 - 14:27

As the General Elections near, the DMK is on war-footing not just in lining up with the right parties at the national level, but also working to strengthen the organisation at the district-level. While MK Stalin’s closest confidants, including his son-in-law V Sabarish, are in contact with national-level leaders, others from his immediate circle, like Anbil Mahesh are said to be operating at the district-level to improve their odds in the coming years. After the successful operation to make former minister Senthil Balaji jump from TTV-led AMMK to the DMK, party insiders say that their next target could be AMMK’s Thanga Tamilselvan.

One cannot be sure if Thanga Tamilselvan is fully ready to jump ship, but that does not stop the DMK from trying - they claim they have been hearing murmurs of disagreements between him and his party boss TTV Dhinakaran.

When asked 'why Thanga Tamilselvan', a DMK insider takes the example of why and how Senthil Balaji was brought into their fold. Balaji, a Kongu-Vellalar leader from Western TN, had been unhappy with Dhinakaran for a while and had not publicly participated in party events for nearly two months. He had reportedly been receiving signals from CM Edappadi Palanisamy about returning to AIADMK. But some deft handling of the matter by Anbil Mahesh, DMK insiders say, turned the tide towards the DMK.

About a week before Balaji joined the DMK, Mahesh is said to have secured the deal with him, and the reason for DMK’s swift movement on this was many-fold. The DMK is weak in the Kongu region, where the ruling party has significant hold. A senior leader and known face joining the DMK from the region could galvanise other unhappy members in the AIADMK to join the DMK. In fact, Senthil Balaji has promised that he will make 2000 of his supporters join the DMK at a grand event in Karur soon. His presence will also add significantly to the DMK’s caste-muscle in the region. Further, Balaji joining DMK does not upset inner-party dynamics, claims a DMK insider, stating that the district heavyweight KC Palanisamy seems to be in a semi-retirement mode. Also, Balaji can help reduce the margin of victory of other leaders like EPS in the region in future elections, if at all they win, it is noted.

Nearly all these advantages lie with Thanga Tamilselvan as well. He is from Theni district, and he would pose as a major challenge to O Panneerselvam, who has a strong-hold in the district. His entry into DMK could further strengthen the Thevar-base of the DMK, insiders feel. Further, there are no major DMK heavyweights in the region which the party would upset if Tamilselvan decides to take the step, it is claimed. Another DMK insider who has been visiting the deep south for understanding the ground situation says that Tamilselvan would be a great addition to the DMK. “He hates OPS more than DMK, and if he sees a future for him here, he could very well fit in. Those districts are mostly a washout for the DMK in all elections. It will be a win-win for him and us,” he says.

Another DMK member says, “What we look for when we engineer a defection is if that person can work with our local party leaders, and if they can, it would be a good choice for us.” He, however adds, that he is unsure about any names being discussed as they are happening at the “top-most” levels. He however adds that the reason they are seeing some momentum now is because BJP’s rout in the recent elections up north has them worried, “And the AIADMK does not enjoy local support.”

However, does Thanga Tamilselvan wants to join? “You cannot be sure of that,” says a political watcher. “His base could erode, and OPS could use this against him in that region to further weaken him.”

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