Stalin appoints T R Baalu as DMK principal secretary

Stalin appoints T R Baalu as DMK principal secretary

He is an influential leader who has been part of four Union governments

Making his first appointment after assuming office as DMK president, M K Stalin on Friday named former Union minister T R Baalu as the party's principal secretary, placing him fourth in the pecking order.

Baalu, an influential leader from the Cauvery delta region, is one of the senior leaders of the DMK and was the party's pointsman in New Delhi for close to a decade.

Baalu, who was part of H D Deve Gowda, I K Gujral, A B Vajpayee and Dr Manmohan Singh's council of ministers, had held various portfolios including the high-profile highways and shipping ministries.

Baalu succeeds S Durai Murugan, who was elected Treasurer of the DMK last month when Stalin took over as the party president after his father M Karunanidhi's death on August 7.

The appointment of Baalu to the fourth important position in the DMK is aimed at consolidating votes of the influential Mukulathor (Thevar, Kallar and Maravar) community in the Delta region.

Baalu, though always contested polls in and around Chennai, the DMK feels his appointment can bring his community closer to the party. Baalu's son T R B Rajaa represents the Mannargudi constituency in Tiruvarur district.

Political observers and DMK insiders say the party feels an influential leader with the stature of Baalu was needed to woo the Mukulathor community, which has traditionally leaned towards the AIADMK.

"With the votes of the community now certain to split between the AIADMK led by EPS-OPS and rebel Dhinakaran, the DMK feels this is the best chance to split the votes and bring a sizeable chunk towards the party," a senior leader told DH.

Both O Panneerselvam and T T V Dhinakaran belong to the community, whose influence is spread across more than half-a-dozen districts in Tamil Nadu. Baalu's appointment is likely to revive the turf war between the former Union minister and his colleague S S Palanimanickam, who also hails from Thanjavur. Palanimanickam, though close to Karunanidhi, does not enjoy the same equation with Stalin.

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