Palaniswami In An Assertive Mood

lull in the faction politics over the last two months has been broken with Palaniswami being in an assertive mood.

CHENNAI: Chief Minister Edapadi Palaniswami faction of the All-India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam on Thursday resolved that the nominations made to various posts in the party by deputy general secretary T.V.V. Dinakaran were invalid, as his own position was untenable as he had been expelled from the party by the late Jayalalithaa. It also noted that his re-induction into the party had not been properly effected.

Thus, the lull in the faction politics over the last two months has been broken with Palaniswami being in an assertive mood. The Chief Minister held a conclave in the party headquarters in Royapettah, in which 17 functionaries and senior ministers participated, and it was decided to keep Dinakaran out of the party’s decision-making apparatus.

Dinakaran, who ended his two-month self-imposed silence on August 5, nominated a number of his cronies, including some ministers, to various posts to keep a check on Palaniswami. This he did after consulting general secretary V.K. Sasikala, who is undergoing imprisonment in the Parappana Agraharam jail in Bangaluru after her conviction in the disproportionate assets case by the Supreme Court. But his writ over the party affairs has been hampered because of his facing so many charges of money laundering, bribing the Election Commission over the frozen symbol of two leaves, and so on.

The deputy general secretary is also unable to strike Palaniswami for fear of collapse of the party government, resulting in a chaotic situation of facing a midterm election, which everybody in the party wants to avoid. Taking advantage of this discomfiture of Dinakaran, the chief minister, like the proverbial worm, has turned.

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Another reason for the EPS faction going all out against Dhinakaran is the Election Commission’s reply to an RTI query from one of the supporters of former Chief Minister Panneerselvam that Sasikala’s status as party general secretary “is under scrutiny because of the factional politics in the party”.

Castigating the resolution of the EPS faction, Dinakaran said in Thanjavur on Thursday that none could challenge his position in the party.

“Palaniswami should not forget that it was at Sasikala’s instance, he became the chief minister. Thus he has no right to overrule her decision to make me the deputy general secretary,” Dinakaran told reporters.

The OPS faction has welcomed the move of the ruling faction to isolate Dinakaran and want a similar stand against Sasikala also.

“Only if the Sasikala family’s vice-like grip over the party is eliminated, there is a point in continuing the efforts to reunite the divided party,” said the spokesperson of the AIADMK (Puratchi Thalaivi Amma) faction on Thursday.

Observers attribute these developments to the invisible hand of the Bharatiya Janata Party leadership at the Centre.

The BJP is keen that both the factions should unite to ensure smooth running of the government and putting the state back on the development track. When both the EPS and the OPS were in Delhi recently to attend the swearing-in ceremony of President Ram Nath Kovind, they were advised to this effect by the BJP bigwigs. This momentum is likely to be sustained further when the two leaders would be attending the swearing-in of Vice-President M. Venkaiah Naidu on Friday.

According to informed sources, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to impress on the two faction leaders to hang together for the sake of the state and the party, instead of hanging separately. If the merger happens, the BJP sources feel, the united AIADMK could get into the National Democratic
Alliance fold, and get at least two ministerial berths, when the reshuffle of the union government takes place at the end of the monsoon session of Parliament. Further, it is underlined that only a merger could enable the party to claim the ‘two leaves’ symbol to contest comfortably the forthcoming local body and civic elections in Tamil Nadu.

Though outwardly the OPS faction leaders deny any discussion with the EPS faction over the merger, there are indeed some behind the scene confabulations towards that end. Some hints of a compromise are also afloat, whereby Panneerselvam would be made the party general secretary and deputy chief minister, probably holding the finance portfolio. This fulfills one of the conditions of the OPS faction that the Sasikala’s elevation as general secretary should be annulled.

Another important condition that the ‘mystery’ behind the death of Jayalalithaa should be investigated by a judicial inquiry may also be accepted, according to EPS faction sources. These are still in the realm of speculation.

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