Will the AIADMK re-unite?

Source : SIFY
By : Meghna Sukumar
Last Updated: Mon, Apr 24, 2017 08:46 hrs

As the Mannargudi mafia has effectively been shunned out of the AIADMK, the future of the party and the fate of politics in Tamil Nadu remains uncertain. The dramatic twists and turns that began soon after Jayalalithaa’s death in December last year have continued four months on. Sasikala and her nephew TTV Dinakaran seemed to effortlessly take over the party by installing themselves as General Secretary and Deputy General Secretary even as few of the leaders led by O.Paneerselvam revolted. A floor test ensued in the Assembly and the Sasikala faction retained power even as she was lodged in jail following her conviction in the disproportionate assets case. Eddapadi Palanisamy, took reign as Chief Minister and the battle shifted to R.K Nagar. The high stakes meant more corruption that usual and the election commission cancelled the polls reprimanding parties for the large-scale bribing of voters.

On 7th April, The IT department raided Health Minister Vijaya Bhaskar’s residence to uncover the large-scale bribery being plotted. The Times of India reported that several ministers had been roped in to influence 2.24 lakh voters in the constituency to ensure TTV Dinakaran’s victory.

Graphic details of the money trail were printed on a special letter pad with 'R K Nagar assembly constituency byelection 2017: Candidate T T V Dhinakaran' printed on top. In the first column on the letter pad, the key election managers' names are printed. The second column shows the number of areas the constituency has been divided into, for electioneering. The third column has the total voters in each region and the fourth one shows the targeted electorate for bribing. The amount disbursed is mentioned in the last column, but curiously enough, there is no mention that the figures refer to money. Divide the total amount by the targeted electorate, and you get the per voter amount of Rs4,000.

Following this came the news that TTV Dinakaran had engaged a well-known con man Sukash Chandrasekaran to bribe EC officials to get his faction the two leaves symbol which was frozen just before the RK Nagar polls. The Delhi Police arrested Chandrasekaran after a tip off by an informer. The 27 year old has several cases against him in the Enforcement Directorate, CBI and Chennai and Bangalore police. He has duped more than 100 people of crores of rupees by posing as important figures in government, and has 15 FIRs lodged against him. Quoting the Delhi Police, the Indian Express reported

It has been learnt that the conman had struck a deal for Rs 50 crore for helping the AIADMK (Amma) faction to keep the ‘two leaves’ symbol, said an officer privy to the probe. Till now, he had got Rs 10 crore of the deal amount and the remaining was to be given to him in a time-bound manner. Yesterday, police recovered Rs 1.30 crore in cash and two luxury cars–a BMW and a Mercedes–from him.

Dinakaran, who said he did know of such a person, was served with summons on Wednesday and was grilled for several hours over the weekend. As the public perception of TTV Dinakaran worsened, a few ministers in his faction have virtually side-lined him and are attempting to unite with the rival OPS faction to regain the two leaves symbol.

Party leader Sengottaiyan initially said that a committee had been formed to negotiate with OPS faction but remained non-committal on the Sasikala family’s role in the party.

 

The OPS faction stood firm demanding resignation of Sasikala, among other things as pre-condition for negotiations.

Finance Minister Jayakumar said that they had to take into consideration the views of thousands of party members and functionaries who wanted the family out, in effect meeting OPS’s demands, signalling that they were ready for talks. 

In response to these developments, TTV Dinakaran, in the midst of various court hearings, said that these minister within their faction are in fear of something due to which they want to keep him and his family away from party affairs. He said that he will stay away from the affairs of the party without being clear on whether he and his aunt would resign their posts.

 

However, several days of negotiation have not yielded results as power sharing between the two factions is becoming tricky. OPS camp wants posts of the general secretary, chief minister and the party presidium for members of their faction. The EPS faction is unwilling to let go of the Chief Ministerial post and is instead offering OPS the post of the party general secretary. However, this is not easy. The Times of India reported that the AIADMK bylaws framed by MGR makes it impossible to remove a general secretary. The article quoted a senior leader as saying –

First and foremost, in case of a compromise between the warring factions, the CM post is more certain. But the party general secretary (GS) post, going by the AIADMK bylaw, is a long shot. The person has to be elected by the 1.5 crore cadres; and not by the functionaries. If there is more than one contestant, we will have to go through a process akin to the general election. No one can select a GS

As this fight for power plays out, there is much being said about BJP’s role in the conflict. While neither of the factions have directly named them, it is believed that the OPS faction has the support of the BJP and it is in fact the BJP that is orchestrating the reunification through Deputy Speaker Thambidurai. Coomi Kapoor writes in the Indian Express -

There was very real apprehension that the Central government may impose President’s rule in the state, something every MLA wanted to avoid at all cost. The Paneerselvam camp, with far fewer MLAs, was requested to rejoin the Sasikala group, on the understanding that Sasikala and her family members would be shown the door.

According to this article in The First Post by Srinivasa Prasad, the BJP has always viewed the AIADMK as a possible ally to make its presence stronger in Tamil Nadu. The death of Jayalalithaa has left a void which they are seeking to leverage on.

OPS and EPS are not in any hurry to unite. The BJP is. From the BJP’s point of view, a united AIADMK without the Sasikala family would be an ideal ally. Besides getting the much-needed votes in the upcoming presidential elections, the BJP would look forward to contesting upwards of ten seats as part of seat-sharing in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls and winning most of them and improving its 2014 tally of just one seat.


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