Despite pressure, DMK not likely to ditch party's dalit face

Chennai, December, 8 : Bearing the brunt of a combined opposition onslaught, tainted former Union communications and IT minister A Raja must be a dispirited man, even though he puts on a brave face before the media.
What could happen to Raja's political career and will the party leadership distance itself from him are questions many ask. A man who had replaced DMK chief M Karunanidhi's grand nephew Dayanidhi Maran with ease, both as the union IT minister and DMK patriarch's conscience keeper in Delhi, Raja is now the subject of speculation that the party may distance itself from him for a while to save its own image.

But not much could be expected against Raja, feel analysts. Karunanidhi is unlikely to initiate any action against Raja for two reasons. First, Raja has been touted as the dalit face of the party for long and DMK cannot afford to ignore it closer to the polls. The DMK government had earlier withdrawn disciplinary proceedings after initiating them against two dalits -- C Umashankar, an IAS officer, and K Kaliappan, former vice-chancellor of Anna University, Tirunelveli who had called on AIADMK supremo J Jayalalithaa during his tenure in office. Besides, the leadership, supporters in his native district as well as his Nilgiris constituency are still solidly behind him.

Secondly, even though some senior DMK leaders feel Raja could be a burden for the party especially during the polls, Karunanidhi would not ditch his trusted lieutenant. A senior leader told here, "There is no move as of now to drop him from the post of DMK propaganda secretary. Nevertheless, there is mounting pressure from within his (Karunanidhi's) family (Stalin and Alagiri) to take some action against Raja."

The DMK's poll prospects could also depend on the action likely to be initiated against Raja by various investigating agencies. The negative impact that a discredited Raja could cause could prove costly to the alliance in a do-or-die election. It might influence the Congress to drive a better bargain with the DMK during seat sharing and perhaps even demand a pre-poll understanding on the formation of a coalition government.


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