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Alagiri suspended for indiscipline

Chennai, Jan. 24: The DMK today suspended M.K. Alagiri for indiscipline, choosing to sacrifice the former Union minister in a desperate move to woo DMDK leader Vijayakanth ahead of the general election.

Alagiri’s suspension from primary membership of the party and the post of south zone secretary came two hours after he called on his father and DMK president, M. Karunanidhi, demanding that the suspension of five of his supporters earlier this week be revoked.

“Angry words were exchanged between the two and Alagiri even threatened to sabotage the party’s chances during the Lok Sabha election. So, Karunanidhi decided to bite the bullet as not only would that safeguard discipline in the party but also appease Vijayakanth who Alagiri had termed not fit to be in politics,” said a DMK official.

“His continuation is inappropriate as it will further disrupt party discipline,” a statement from DMK general secretary K. Anbazhagan said. He added that Alagiri, the Madurai MP, had criticised the action against supporters who betrayed the party’s interests.

Alagiri has been fighting a losing battle with younger brother and party treasurer, M.K. Stalin, on who will succeed Karunanidhi. Most of Alagiri’s supporters have gravitated towards Stalin in the last two years, leaving him with a small rump of loyalists. Even their clout diminished after the high command dissolved the Madurai district unit and ordered fresh elections two weeks ago.

With Stalin’s supporters enjoying a clear upper hand, Alagiri’s men got into a poster war and filed police cases against them under the SC act, claiming they had been abused by using their caste name.

Realising that half-measures would not help, the DMK high command suspended five of Alagiri’s supporters to ensure that party elections were conducted peacefully. But Alagiri today got into a slanging match with Karunanidhi, leading to his removal from the party.

The day after Alagiri, in a TV interview, railed at Vijayakanth, Karunanidhi had warned him of strict action, including expulsion. But Alagiri struck a truce after meeting Karunanidhi twice. However, after his supporters sought to disrupt the party elections in Madurai and Alagiri backed them fully, the DMK had no option but to send him out.

In today’s statement, Anbazhagan came down on Alagiri’s attempt to disrupt alliance talks by hitting out at leaders of prospective allies. Apparently, Vijayakanth had called off discussions after Alagiri’s attack. When DMK leaders sought to revive the talks yesterday, he asked them what action the party had taken against Alagiri.

Alagiri’s suspension can now be touted by the DMDK as incentive to team up with the DMK, which has indicated that it is willing to withdraw its Rajya Sabha candidate to accommodate a DMDK nominee as part of the alliance package.

In 2001, Alagiri had sabotaged the chances of DMK candidates in at least 22 constituencies by fielding rebel candidates, leading to its defeat in the Assembly elections.