In a surprising turn of events, a few DMK party functionaries defied their party leadership and contested in the indirect polls for civic body chiefs on March 4 across Tamil Nadu, and defeated the DMK’s official candidates in at least a dozen wards allotted to the party’s allies.
An upset DMK president and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, MK Stalin, issued a statement asking rebel partymen who won the civic chief posts defeating candidates fielded by the DMK leadership, to resign immediately and meet him.
After a hiatus of ten years, the urban local body polls were conducted in the state on February 19, 2022. While the elected ward members of town panchayats, municipalities and corporations took oath on March 2, the elections for the key posts like mayor, deputy mayor, municipal chairman, deputy chairman, town panchayat president and vice-presidents were conducted on March 4.
Holding the majority in all the 21 corporations, the DMK announced candidates to mayor posts in 20 municipal corporations. It gave just one corporation to one of its allies – the Congress. K Saravanan, an auto driver, who is the deputy president of the Congress Kumbakonam city unit, has become the first mayor of the newly-created Kumbakonam Corporation.
DMK’s other allies like CPI, CPM and VCK were various chairman and deputy posts to contest. In Cuddalore district, the Nellikkuppam municipality chairman seat was allotted to the VCK and the party had announced Girija Thirumaran as its candidate. But during the elections, Jayanthi Radhakrishnan, a DMK functionary, contested against the official candidate and won.
Similiarly in Dharmapuri district, P Mallapuram town panchayat president was allotted to the VCK and Chinnavedi was announced as the party’s official candidate. Here too, a DMK functionary named Shanthi contested against the VCK candidate and won.
Not just the VCK, the other DMK allies also bore the brunt of the rebellious DMK candidates who were flouting the DMK high command.
In Allinagaram municipality in Theni district, for instance, the chairman’s post was allotted to the Congress. But none of the DMK cadres supported the Congress functionary Sargunam who was announced as the official candidate for the post. Instead, the DMK rebel functionary Renupriya was elected as the chairman.
In Thirumuruganpoondi town panchayat, in Tiruppur district, the president’s post was allotted to the CPM. Here, the DMK rebel candidate Kumar defeated the official CPM candidate Subramaniam.
Expressing shock and dissatisfaction over the rebel candidates, DMK’s allies have demanded that appropriate action should be taken by the DMK chief, Stalin, for violating the ‘alliance dharma’. Meanwhile, Stalin has ordered rebel candidates who have won to resign their posts immediately.
“Thailavar Kalaignar (M Karunandhi) reiterated that Kattupaadu (discipline) was the most important among the three principles of Kadamai, Kanniyam and Kattupaadu, propounded by Peraringnar Anna. But some have violated it and occupied the posts allocated to alliance partners. Those who have won would think that they have achieved a big thing. But as a party leader, I feel guilty and ashamed,” said Stalin in a statement.
The behaviour of the DMK party cadre, traditionally known for their discipline and loyalty to the party, has shaken the party’s leadership. Earlier, in the urban local body polls held on February 19, 2022, fifty-six rebel candidates who had contested in the polls against the official candidates of the alliance parties, were dismissed from the party’s basic membership.
This rebellion by DMK party members comes at a time when the Opposition AIADMK leaders from south Tamil Nadu, who are contemplating to bring back Sasikala and TTV Dhinakaran into the party, are showing much more unity. For example, in Devakottai municipality in Sivagangai district, the AIADMK won the post of municipality chairman post with the support of AMMK.