Lok Sabha elections 2019: Raja, Kanimozhi, Maran among DMK hopefuls
While Kanimozhi is the lone claimant for the Thoothukudi seat, Raja and Maran have sought to be fielded as DMK candidates from the Nilgiris reserved constituency and Central Chennai, respectively. Raja and Maran had unsuccessfully contested these seats in 2014.Updated: Mar 17, 2019 00:23 IST
Putting behind it the 2G telecom spectrum and other scandals, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) is set to rehabilitate the political career of former telecom minister A Raja, party patriarch, the late M Karunanidhi’s daughter, Kanimozhi, and his grand nephew, Dayanidhi Maran, in the Lok Sabha polls.
All three are hoping to contest the polls, and like other aspirants, have applied to the DMK leadership to be included among its candidates, a rite of passage in the Dravidian party. They have also appeared for an interview before the leadership, and only a formal announcement of their candidacy is awaited, according to people familiar with the development who spoke on condition of anonymity.
While Kanimozhi is the lone claimant for the Thoothukudi seat, Raja and Maran have sought to be fielded as DMK candidates from the Nilgiris reserved constituency and Central Chennai, respectively. Raja and Maran had unsuccessfully contested these seats in 2014.
For Kanimozhi, currently a member of the Rajya Sabha, it would be the first time she contests a direct election in her political career.
For Maran, the Central Chennai seat is an important one because it was once represented by his father, the late Murasoli Maran. With Maran and his brother, Kalandhi, controlling the influential Sun TV network, Dayanidhi’s claim to the seat could not be ignored, said DMK functionaries.
While Maran has been keeping a low profile, Raja and Kanimozhi have emerged as key players in the party, especially after their acquittal in the 2G spectrum case by a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) special court in 2017. The CBI last year challenged their acquittal and that of others in the case in the Delhi high court.
A special CBI court in 2017 discharged Dayanidhi Maran and Kalanithi Maran in a case in which the former telecom minister and his brother were accused of forcing serial entrepreneur C Sivasankaran to sell his stake in telecom company Aircel to Maxis of Malaysia in a quid pro quo transaction.
It was Kanimozhi, as the emissary of her half brother and DMK president MK Stalin, who clinched the seat sharing deal with the Congress for the Lok Sabha poll s by camping in New Delhi. She was the interlocutor with the Congress leadership.
Now, in her first ever electoral battle, Kanimozhi has opted for the southern coastal constituency of Thoothukudi.
“Well, it reinforces the view that the realpolitik of Dravidian parties is a cloak to camouflage their accommodation of OBC [other backward class] dominance... Her mother, Rajathi, hails from the mercantile Nadar community, which is numerically dominant in the constituency...,” says C Lakshmanan, an associate professor at the Madras Institute of Development Studies.
In the case of Raja, he is not only the Dalit face of the party but a frontline leader who has the backing of the party high command. His choice of Nilgiris, too, is not without reason. Tea estate workers of Sri Lankan Tamil origin constitute a substantial chunk of the electorate in the constituency. And his family, too, is of Sri Lankan Tamil origin, which would stand him in good stead in the election.
The DMK dismissed suggestions that the three were being rehabilitated despite the stain of the 2G and other telecom scandals.
“The court has acquitted them and it has been proved that the charges against the party were nothing but a campaign by vested interests. By spreading this calumny, our rivals have come to power but, truth has prevailed. Those harping on it even now only expose their intellectual and political shallowness,” said DMK organising secretary RS Bharathi.