You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Why AIADMK’s troubles are far from over

LiveMint logoLiveMint 22-08-2017 Dharani Thangavelu

Chennai: The All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam’s (AIADMK) trouble is far from over as one round of factionalism ends and another emerges, with around 18 MLAs who support the sidelined deputy general secretary of the party, T.T.V. Dhinakaran, set to meet the governor C. Vidyasagar Rao on Tuesday morning to challenge the Edappadi K. Palaniswami government.

Legislators who are backing Dhinakaran met for over 20 minutes at late chief minister J. Jayalalithaa’s memorial on Monday evening after day-long discussions at the former’s residence. MLA P. Vetrivel told reporters that they would meet the governor on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Dhinakaran, in a series of tweets late Monday night, said his political journey will continue to set right the party from the confusion created by O. Panneerselvam and Palaniswami.

“What happened today was not a merger. It is a commercial agreement of those who are selfish and power hungry,” he tweeted.

“EPS (Palaniswami) has now joined hands with those who were responsible for freezing the party’s two leaves symbol, this shows they’re desperate for power. How are they joining hands with people who were calling this government corrupt?” Dhinakaran asked.

Panneerselvam, who had rebelled against party general secretary V.K. Sasikala in February, when she attempted to become the chief minister of Tamil Nadu, settled down with the deputy chief minister’s post along with the finance portfolio. However, with the prevailing uncertainty in the government, Panneerselvam has secured his position as convener of AIADMK.

Sasikala is in a Bengaluru jail after being convicted in a disproportionate assets case.

The AIADMK merger was finally sealed on Monday after multiple rounds of negotiations, many failed attempts, compromises and hard bargains. Yet, it is not going to be a smooth sailing for the ruling government.

What do the numbers suggest?

While Dhinakaran showed strength with 20 MLAs at a public rally near Madurai, last week, around 18 MLAs met him on Monday as Palaniswami and Panneerselvam announced the merger. Though the exact number of legislators who back Dhinakaran are plus or minus 20, the nephew of Sasikala had last week said that he had MLAs who “act like sleeper cells” and would come to his side when required.

However, for the 234-member assembly that requires a simple majority of 117, the united AIADMK has 117 members, including the speaker. The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), Congress and Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) together have 98 MLAs. If one goes by the number of MLAs who met Dhinakaran on Monday, he has 18 legislators, enough to threaten the Palaniswami government.

Jayalalithaa’s assembly seat lies vacant.

Observers suggest, with all the chaos around him, Dhinakaran has in fact emerged in a slightly better position, with little to lose.

“As long as Dhinakaran can hold on to his MLAs, the government’s stability is under permanent threat, and could even be toppled,” said N. Sathiya Moorthy, director of the Chennai chapter of think tank Observer Research Foundation.

Fissures surfaced as soon as the merger was announced.

As Rajya Sabha MP R. Vaithilingam said that Sasikala would be removed from the party’s general secretary post, handlooms and textile minister O.S. Manian disagreed with his colleague and said there was “no agenda in today’s (Monday) meeting regarding Sasikala or the general secretary post”.

Manian said Vaithilingam made the comment in his personal capacity.

“Dhinakaran has to ensure that his MLAs stay with him and at the same time their number increases and, not decreases as the days wear off,” added Moorthy.

On the other hand, DMK has so far played it right, waiting for the government to collapse on its own.

Opposition leader and DMK working president M.K. Stalin on Sunday said that his party will “bring down the government in a democratic way”.

While the AIADMK’s party symbol and name lies frozen with the Election Commission (EC), the party will have to report the merger to the EC and initiate the withdrawal of the respective factions’ petitions staking claim to the party’s two leaves symbol.

More From LiveMint

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon