The fast approaching Lok Sabha elections have predictably heightened the political frenzy in Tamil Nadu. And with former Minister Senthil Balaji moving to the DMK, talks of opportunistic defections ahead of the polls have begun. According to sources, the party that will be hurt the most as we dive deeper into election season is the AMMK. Leaders in both the AIADMK and the DMK have told TNM that disqualified MLAs from TTV Dhinakaran's party are knocking at their doors, asking for a chance to join them.
The first big shock to the AMMK came when Senthil Balaji formally joined the DMK on December 14. TTV Dhinakaran put out a press release claiming to be unconcerned by those who quit the party. He claimed that those who leave are â€˜fakeâ€™, and that such departure by people for their own self interest will not be a source of concern for the AMMK. Following this, DMK insiders told TNM that their next target from the AMMK could be Thanga Tamilselvan.
And now, Deputy Chief Minister O Paneerselvam, added fuel to this fire claiming that four disqualified MLAs from TTV's party are currently in touch with him.
"Four MLAs sent me messages day before yesterday saying that they want to meet and that they will come in person. I told them that you first resign from Dhinakaran's party and then come here. These people are used to bargaining," O Panneerselvam said in Theni district on Saturday. He further went on to claim that Senthil Balaji had first approached the AIADMK hoping to return to the party's folds, but was rejected by Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami.
"He won the Aruvakurichi bye-election because of support from Edappadi Palaniswami's constant presence in the constituency. He is the biggest betrayer. EPS said that he will allow anybody back but not Senthil Balaji. Two days later, he joined the DMK, " said the Deputy CM.
Sources in the AIADMK however doubt whether disqualified MLAs will really attempt to return to the party's fold.
"There are several issues that will crop up - both for the party and the former MLA. The first problem is that even if they join the AIADMK, they will be relegated to a corner and partymen will not accept it if they are given important posts. They cannot be made to contest elections because people in their constituency will be angry with them for playing a political game and not doing anything for the development of the region. And as for the party, allowing MLAs, who have spoken so badly about leaders, to come back is not a good idea," says an AIADMK MLA.
Sources in the DMK meanwhile tell TNM that a number of leaders from the AMMK have been in contact with the.
"Many more (than the number quoted by AIADMK) have shown interest," says a DMK source. "Many are interested but the DMK leadership isn't keen yet," he adds.
And while the AMMK is resolute that no one else will defect, a source in the party says that moving to the DMK is a politically unwise decision for the disqualified MLAs.
"While they may not agree with the way the AIADMK is functioning, atleast they pretend to respect former Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa," he says. "But the DMK is a party that has spoken ill of her on several occassions and the people will not forgive them for that."