DMK Grassroots Workers Unhappy With Internal Election
Chennai: Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and DMK President MK Stalin being greeted by party workers at the party's General Council Meeting, in Chennai, Sunday, Oct. 9, 2022. (PTI Photo/R Senthil Kumar)
Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam’s (DMK) grassroots are unhappy with the results of the 15th intra-party polls, especially with the election of district secretaries and General Council (GC) members.
The election, which began in February 2020 but was delayed due to the pandemic, concluded with a GC meeting on October 9 where chief minister MK Stalin was elected as party president for the second time. Many senior leaders retained their positions with Kanimozhi, Stalin’s half-sister, being elevated as one of the deputy general secretaries and as head of the party’s women’s wing.
The heads of town panchayats, municipalities and municipal corporations and the state-level leadership of the party were also elected.
Despite the filing of nominations for the posts of district secretary, presidium chairman and treasurer between September 22 and 27, the DMK leadership chose not to hold elections and appointed office-bearers to 71 of the 72 district units.
The incumbent secretaries of 64 districts retained their posts and only 7 new district secretaries were elected. Most of the changes were in the western region, where the party is attempting to expand its organisation.
According to local reports, DMK members who were expecting election to district-level posts were upset with the “photocopy” of names. Moreover, according to the One India report on July 25, the party leadership issued a verbal order to retain the existing leadership and not accept nominations other than from approved by the leadership.
When party members showed interest to contest, senior party leaders intervened and asked them to compromise. A candidate has to deposit a fees of Rs 25,000 and submit a form at the party’s Chennai head office to contest for a district-level post.
STRENGTH OF MINISTERS
As per DMK rules, one executive committee (EC) member and two GC members can be elected per Assembly constituency—but there were 73 extra GC and 22 EC members.
Since Coimbatore district has 10 Assembly constituencies it should have 10 EC and 20 GC members. But the leadership allowed 12 EC and 38 GC members. Similarly, Karur district, with four Assembly constituencies, was given four more EC members and five extra GC members. Notably, state electricity minister V Senthil Balaji is in charge of both the districts.
There was minimum competition in districts where senior ministers are district secretaries—Tiruvannamalai, Virudhunagar, Dindigul, Karur and Chennai. Party workers complained of being deprived of a fair opportunity because influential persons picked people of their choice as EC and GC members.
Protests erupted within the DMK over the ‘underrepresentation’ of minority communities, especially Muslims, in the newly reconstituted party district committees.
However, when Newsclick approached a few DMK members belonging to minority communities, they denied the allegation and declined to comment further.
Moreover, the rule of electing one Adi Dravidar, or tribal, and one woman deputy out of three deputy secretaries was not followed.
Another allegation was the replacement and sidelining of many ground-level DMK leaders who kept the party going during the 10-year rule of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK).
Asianet News Tamil reported on August 14 that party positions were sold by district administrators for several lakhs without giving importance to senior administrators. New members and those who recently switched from other political parties were appointed.
A section of DMK cadre and second-rung leaders expressed disappointment saying many people were given more than one post in violation of the party’s by-laws.
Stalin has, however, denied the allegations in his regular column ‘Ungalil Oruvan’ (One Among You) in the DMK mouthpiece Murasoli on October 3. He alleged it was a campaign by “regressive forces that are unable to accept the growth of the Kazhagam, which is strengthened by each of your cooperation and work, and the state’s progress and development during its rule”.
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