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The defection of Senthil Balaji from the TTV Dinakaran camp to the DMK has come as a shock to the ruling AIADMK in Tamil Nadu as this is the first case of a member of the AIADMK family to join the DMK in recent times.

The refrain of the AIADMK ever since the party split into two or three groups after the death of its supremo J Jayalallithaa was that whatever be the differences, no AIADMK man would ever think of joining the DMK, which was considered an enemy.

In the past, though, there were several AIADMK leaders including some former ministers who did quit the AIADMK and join the DMK bandwagon like Nanjil Manoharan, G R Edmund, S Reghupathy, Karuppuswamy Pandian,KKSSR Ramachandran, K P Ramalingam, Kannappan, S Muthuswamy, Subbulakshmi Jegadeesan –some of them had quit during MGR’s time and some during Jayalalithaa’s leadership. A few returned to the AIADMK later.

However, it must be admitted that none of the AIADMK MLAs or former MLAs had left the party in the last two years since Jayalalithaa’s demise. This was a matter of comfort for the Edappadi Palaniswami government or the Dinakaran group. Though the DMK was breathing down their necks, the average AIADMK man kept away from its arch enemy. M K Stalin was hoping that a few of them would cross over, and it would be game over for the AIADMK. But this did not happen.

Though the crossing over of Senthil Balaji to the DMK has come as a shot in the arm for the ruling AIADMK as it had cast the Dinakaran camp as an unstable, motley crowd, the defection of Senthil Balaji to the DMK has come as a severe warning to the AIADMK as such, raising doubts about its own stability.

Dinakaran himself stated that Senthil Balaji could have joined the traitors (read the ruling AIADMK)

The first success of the DMK in winning over a former AIADMK MLA means that the DMK has smelt blood and will hunt for more. Also, there could be more AIADMK MLAs and former MLAs who could take the DMK route. The message that Senthil Balaji has sent is that there may be no future for the AMMK but there is no guarantee of success by being part of the ruling AIADMK as well.

That the DMK looks like a promised land with greener pastures is bad news for the AIADMK which is struggling to keep its flock together, and is also faced with an uncertain future as by-polls have to be held to 20 seats. The outcome of these elections could alter the balance.

The momentum that the DMK has gained with the entry of Senthil Balaji would have to be stemmed, not just by the AMMK but also by the AIADMK. In that sense, the AIADMK has played its cards badly by getting 18 MLAs disqualified, and then trying to win them over. None of these MLAs has taken kindly to the act of disqualification. Emissaries of the AIADMK are making a renewed bid to get them to re-join the parent organization. That is only half the problem. How can they win again, is the key question

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