Arrest fear haunts DMK

The acrimonious campaign for the local body polls is at its peak as the campaign closes on Saturday, but many DMK heavyweights, including Union chemicals minister M.K. Alagiri and DMK’s Salem strongman Veerapandi S. Arumugam, have shied away from the campaign fearing the wrath of the ruling party.

The spate of arrests of DMK leaders on land-grab charges and the ongoing DVAC raids have exposed the weaker side of the party leaders known for their rhetoric. It is evident that the police crackdown has infused fear of arrest in their minds.

The DMK seniors have been deliberately maintaining a low profile in poll activity.

The classic cases of the key leaders’ conspicuous absence are Madurai, Salem and Tiruchy. In Madurai, Mr Alagiri, hailed as ‘brave heart’ (Anjaanenjan) by his supporters, has failed to lift the partymen’s sagging morale. He did not turn up to kick-start the campaign as promised.

At a time when the Vijayakanth-Left combine is doing an unusually vigorous campaign to push the DMK to a ‘humiliating’ third place in Madurai, party functionaries are upset with Mr Alagiri’s absence, sources said. Mr Arumugam has not turned up for poll-related work in Salem while former transport minister K.N. Nehru did not bother to campaign even for the Tiruchy West by-poll he is contesting for.

“The party had seen many ups and downs and has withstood even the Emergency. But the situation now is different. Many leaders, who had a free hand and made huge money, are neither willing to face the police onslaught nor sacrifice for the party,” reasoned a former minister.

DMK president M. Karunanidhi and party treasurer M.K. Stalin may proclaim that the Dravidian party cannot be cowed down by ‘foisting of cases’ against its leaders, but their pep talk fails to reinvigorate their lieutenants.

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