DMK patriarch M Karunanidhi has stepped in to curb infighting in the party. He was dismayed at serious differences between two senior DMK leaders S S Palanimanickkam, Minister of State For Finance in the UPA government, and former Union minister T R Baalu who now heads the Railways Parliamentary Standing Committee.
With Baalu trying to push through several ‘development projects’ for Thanjavur district including some new railway lines, without taking its five-time MP and DMK district secretary Palanimanickkam into confidence, the latter on Saturday openly complained to the media that “Baalu is trying to give an impression that I am not doing anything for Thanjavur’s development.”
A visibly shaken Karunanidhi, candidly observing that he ‘lost his sleep’ over the past two days, said here in a statement on Monday that he was losing his peace seeing such ugly intra-party tussles. “You turn to your relatives for solace if the village is against you; but to whom will I turn to for comfort if brother fights brother like enemies?” asked Karunanidhi. Palanimanickkam ought not to have rushed to the press with his tale of woe, he said.
The rift took a sharper turn amid reports that Baalu, who represents Sriperumbudur constituency but hails from Thanjavur district, was now eyeing it for Sabha constituency polls, a perception not liked by for Palanimanickkam.
More seriously, with the DMK already beset with other internal squabbles, a turf war in Thanjavur district, which socially and politically has been at the heart of DMK’s growth since Annadurai’s time, came as a shocker to Karunanidhi. Urging Baalu to concentrate more on his Sriperumbudur constituency near Chennai, Palanimanickkam’s tale of woe was that, “as I am the local MP and district secretary (Thanjavur) of DMK, Baalu should at least have the courtesy to inform me” instead of trying to score brownie points from Delhi and Chennai by projecting that he (Baalu) was being more dynamic in developing Thanjavur.
As the war of words threatened to get worse to the point of affecting DMK’s image further in Delhi, Palanimanickkam rushed down to Chennai on Sunday to explain to Karunanidhi the circumstances and stress under which he made the remarks about Baalu violating party discipline at an open press meet.
Karunanidhi asked “if such a situation were to obtain in every district, what for there is party leadership?”