In the last 48 hours, DMK MLA Ku Ka Selvam has created a political storm in Tamil Nadu. From meeting the BJP National President in New Delhi and attending a Ram Janmabhoomi puja in the BJP's Chennai headquarters to expressing his indifference to being suspended by the DMK, Selvam's activities and statements betray a deep sense of resentment towards his party.
"I became an MLA to serve the people of my constituency (Thousand Lights) and not to listen to them (Stalin's family). I have been part of Dravidian parties for 50 years now, but look at the situation I have been pushed to. I don't care even if I am expelled," he said outside Kamalalayam in Chennai on Wednesday. He further added that after M Karunanidhi and MK Stalin, party members now have to listen to the 'grandson' Udhayanidhi.
His jibes have led to several questions on who holds the reins to the DMK and in an interview to TNM on Thursday, the MLA alleged that the DMK was ignoring its loyal members.
According to Selvam, his disgruntlement began in 2014 when the DMKâ€™s Chennai West district secretary post was given to J Anbazhagan. But following Anabazhagan's death in June due to COVID-19, the MLA entertained the hope that he would be next in line. But in the tough fight that followed for the post, Selvam alleges he was overlooked again. Despite eight division secretaries in the Chennai west region reportedly opposing the move, a candidate supported by Udhayanidhi Stalin was chosen as district in-charge. The young leader N Chitrarasu is part of the DMK youth wing, that Udhayanidhi heads.
"The DMK needs to do more for loyal members who have been with the party for decades," says Selvam who joined the party in 1997. "There has been no consultation or party meeting called for to decide on secretaries. There have been changes in several districts without a democratic process being followed. Udayanidhi only keeps promoting members of the Youth wing and the rest of us above the age of 55 have become dummies. We may as well go home," he adds.
Selvam further adds that there is a lot of injustice happening in the party and that nobody in the leadership is brave enough to question this.
"They need to watch what is happening closely. They are allowing only certain people to grow and that is not acceptable," he states.
But what led to his meeting with the BJP? Did he not express his problems to the DMK high command?
"After they announced the new secretary, I did speak up. Then they told me that 'Thalaivar' (MK Stalin) wants to speak to me. I realised if I did that he would just tell me to give up the post and not create an issue. I can't directly disagree with what he says," says the MLA.
Instead, he admits, he chose this time to meet Railway Minister Piyush Goyal who is also in charge of BJP in Tamil Nadu.
"When I went there I found that the ministers were in Ayodhya for the Ram Janma bhoomi puja. L Murugan, the TN BJP President is a friend of mine and he said we can meet BJP National President JP Nadda. I also wanted to congratulate the BJP on the reopening of the Ram Temple, so I decided to meet him," he claims. "I had no intention of joining the BJP then" he claimed.
Then why did he urge his party cadre above the age of 55 to join the BJP, why not any other party.
"This is because we can't grow in the DMK anymore," he says. "In the BJP I personally saw that there was a grand welcome. Even when I reached the airport on Wednesday, hundreds of members had come in support and I was received well in the BJP office as well," he says.
But some would consider it morally corrupt to switch to a party that is ideologically on the other end of the spectrum.
"Even when I was in the DMK, I was very involved in temple work. I gave Rs.1.5 crore to build a temple. I have done Balalayams (rituals) in temples. I don't see anything wrong in moving to BJP, it is like moving to any other party. But as of now I have not decided to leave DMK. If they want to expel me, they can."