"He has not been picking up any of our calls for the last week. Even TTV Dhinakaran has not been able to reach him," said a source in the AMMK.

TTV Dhinakaran party leader Senthil Balaji set to defect to DMK confirm sourcesScreenshot from YouTube/Puthiya Thalaimurai
news Politics Thursday, December 13, 2018 - 16:51

Former Tamil Nadu Transport Minister and Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam (AMMK) chief TTV Dhinakaran's close aide Senthil Balaji is all set to join the state’s main opposition party, the DMK. As sources from both parties have confirmed the same to TNM, TTV Dhinakaran has put out a press release claiming to be unconcerned by those who leave the party. TTV said that the those who leave his party are ‘fake’, and said that the departure of people who join other parties for their own self interest will not be a source of concern for the AMMK.

Speculation has been rife for over a week about Senthil Balaji's possible defection from the AMMK. According to sources, suspicions arose on December 5 when he failed to join the AMMK in their silent procession to former Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa's memorial. "He has not been picking up any of our calls for the last week. Even TTV Dhinakaran has not been able to reach him," said a source in the AMMK, "When a party member managed to talk to him, he completely denied that he is in contact with DMK. His actions however seem to indicate otherwise.”

According to reports, the former Transport minister is currently on his way from Karur to Chennai, to meet DMK leaders.

DMK sources meanwhile tells TNM that the party has been in talks with the disqualified MLA from the Aravakurichi Assembly segment, and that he will be formally joining the party soon. Reports indicate that this may coincide with the unveiling of former DMK chief M Karunanidhi’s statue on December 16.

The AMMK meanwhile is trying to put on a strong face. Party leaders that TNM spoke to said that defections were common within parties in Tamil Nadu; TTV Dhinakaran in his press release slammed those who leave the party for ‘self interests’, without naming Senthil Balaji.

"People who think that the departure of individuals or certains groups from the party will cause it to fold, are like cats that believe the world has darkened when they close their eyes," he said in a statement to his party members and supporters, "When I have people of pure gold like you, why should I bother about fake people leaving the party?"

He has further alleged that a 'leader' in Aravakurichi was involved in an illegal liquor business and that he had already attempted to 'do the same thing' (defect).

"But a party functionary brought him and asked that he be forgiven and be given another chance. A leader who behaved in such a manner, has he forgotten this and left, or did he get into a position where he could be taken away, is something we don't know," said the statement.

The AMMK chief has further alleged that several attempts were underway to break apart his party due to the support it receives from people and its electoral success in the RK Nagar elections.

Senthil Balaji first shot to popularity when he became a union councillor from Manmangalam panchayat in Karur union in 1996 as independent candidate. He joined the AIADMK in 2000 and retained his post in Karur in the following elections. He grew quickly in the party and won an Assembly seat in 2006 from Karur. In 2011, following yet another victory, he became the Transport Minister but was later dropped from the cabinet in 2014. In 2016, he stood from Aravakurichi and won the MLA seat there.

He went on to support TTV Dhinakaran following the split within the party and was amongst the 18 MLAs whose disqualification was upheld by the Madras High Court.



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