Former Tamil Nadu Transport Minister Senthil Balaji quits AMMK, joins DMK
Ending days of speculation, V Senthil Balaji, former Transport Minister and key functionary of the TTV Dhinakaran-led Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam, on Friday joined the opposition DMK in the presence of party president M.K. Stalin and other senior leaders.
Mr. Balaji, who is one of the 18 disqualified AIADMK MLAs, hit out at the AIADMK government led by Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami and Deputy Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam alleging that they were sacrificing the rights of the people of Tamil Nadu at the behest of the BJP.
“The AIADMK is a sinking ship. EPS got the post of the CM through deceit. After losing the next elections, he will go back to farming in Edappadi,” Mr. Balaji told reporters after signing up to become a primary member of the DMK.
Curiously, Mr. Balaji did not explain why he had quit the Dhinakaran camp and instead took on the AIADMK leadership. “The EPS-OPS combine, and all the ministers are betraying the people of Tamil Nadu. I have joined the DMK today seeing Mr. Stalin’s charisma. The people of the State are ready to put the DMK in power in both the Lok Sabha and the Assembly elections, and make ‘Thalapathy’ (Stalin) the Chief Minister,” he claimed.
When asked if there was a difference of opinion in the Dhinakaran camp on whether to face by-elections or go in for a review in the Supreme Court challenging their disqualification, Mr. Balaji said he had pitched for facing by-elections. A review petition would keep the “anti-people EPS-OPS combine in power and ensure they surrender the rights of Tamil Nadu till the next elections,” he argued.
“I have worked under a leadership and with people there. I am not in the habit of speaking ill of people with whom I have worked with,” he added.
The former minister claimed that thousands of AIADMK cadre and his supporters would join the DMK in the coming days and they would work towards ensuring the DMK wins in the next polls.
Addressing journalists, Mr. Dhinakaran said he was not worried about Mr. Balaji’s defection. “I don’t know if he had any personal anger against me. A lot of people come and talk to me about a number of issues. I wouldn’t have been upset even if he had joined the EPS group. But, he has gone and joined the DMK. He in fact had a tattoo of the AIADMK [on his forearm],” he said.
“It saddens me that he has gone and joined a party that filed a case against the AIADMK that led to Amma spending time in jail,” he said. The AMMK leader said he had nothing against Mr. Balaji. “In fact when we started the party, Balaji only got more than 1.2 crore membership forms printed for us. He has printed another lot and we are in the process of enrolling more members”.
The AMMK leader also mocked the DMK alleging that the party needed someone from his party to attempt to gain a stronghold in the Karur region. “This shows how strong the DMK is,” he quipped.