CM’s relative, BJP leader join DMK

Tamil Nadu BJP vice-president B T Arasakumar, who earned the wrath of the party for praising M K Stalin’s leadership skills at an event last week, on Thursday joined the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK).

Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami’s close relative, Viswanathan, also joined the DMK in the presence of its president Stalin. A vice president of Tamil Nadu BJP, B T Arasakumar made the move after publicly praising MK Stalin four days ago while predicting the DMK boss will soon become the state chief minister, much to the BJP’s embarrassment.

Viswanathan’s defection to the DMK was also interesting, as he was not only a cousin to AIADMK joint-coordinator and CM Edappadi K Palaniswami, but also seen as his representative, having served as the panchayat chief of Palaniswami’s Nedungulam village in the Salem district.

Within four days of Arasakumar’s statement that he was ready to wear a dhoti with DMK stripes, he switched loyalties on Thursday. Arasakumar had hailed Stalin for his leadership qualities and hard work on Sunday when he shared a stage with the latter in a marriage function held at Pudukkottai.

After the controversial comments, Arasakumar, who had been defending the BJP on Tamil television debates, was asked not to represent the party on shows. The state unit, which is headless after Tamilisai Soundararajan was packed off to Telangana as Governor, also wrote to the central leadership seeking action against Arasakumar.

Arasakumar was associated with the DMK two decades earlier before floating his own OBC outfit which he merged with the BJP after the 2014 general elections. Arasakumar claimed he quit the BJP due to harassment for speaking “the truth”.

He was given a gag order to take part in TV debates by BJP’s State general secretary KS Nagendran.