Former DMK minister Arumugam dies at 75

DMK leader Veerapandi S Arumugam, who earned the sobriquet 'Lion of Salem', died in Chennai on Friday morning. He was 75.

Arumugam was one of the strongest among the second rung leaders of the party, and had been a minister thrice and an MLA six times. He was also district secretary for long enough to decide the affairs of the party and life in Salem and its neighbourhood.

Despite making his mark by winning elections while the party was on the backfoot during the rule of AIADMK founder M G Ramachandran, Arumugam lost the 2011 Tamil Nadu Assembly election to his step-niece Vijayalakshmi Palanisamy.

Born in a powerful family in Poolavari village, Arumugam built on the influence of his family to build an empire. He was associated with the DMK right from when he was young, and became the president of Poolavari Panchayat at 21 a post which he held for 18 years. During this period, he was elected the chairman of Veerapandi panchayat union, thrice to the state Assembly, and became the DMK district secretary. A trusted lieutenant of M Karunanidhi, Arumugam is survived by two wives, two sons and a daughter.

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