A year ago, exactly at this time, Jayalalitha was under treatment in Apollo Hospitals. She was admitted on 22nd of September 2016 and after a prolonged treatment for 75 days, she was declared dead on 5th December 2016. Many waters have flown under the bridge since then, and the very same woman Sasikala, who was controlling the happenings inside and outside the hospitals, is now cooling her heels at ParappanaAgrahara prisons, Bengaluru.
The party AIADMK, which was led by Jayalalitha to a resounding victory in the 2016 assembly polls, is in doldrums now with a vertical split. In fact, a couple of months ago, the party had three factions led by the present CM EdappadiPalaniswami (EPS), former CM O.PanneerSelvam (OPS) andSasikala’s nephewTTV.Dinakaran (TTV). Sensing the mood of anger against Sasikala and family among the public in general and party cadres in particular, the OPS and EPS factions merged to project a combined show of strength thereby isolating Sasikalaand family, which is addressed as ‘Mannargudi Mafia’ in media and political circles. They also had a motive of regaining the party’s successful symbol ‘Two Leaves’, with which the control of party would be complete.
The happenings which led EPS, the presumed loyalist, to cut his relationship with Sasi& Co have been interesting. Sasikala, anticipating a negative verdict in the disproportionate assets case from the Supreme Court, forced OPS to resign, with an ambition of becoming CM so that she could avoid the imminent arrest. However, she could not succeed, as Governor VidyasagarRao maneuvered cleverly (presumably on the advice of center) until the deliverance of SC verdict and the subsequent arrest of Sasikala. So, she was left with no other option except to make one of her loyalists as CM and she chose EPS. She also made her nephew TTV as the Deputy General Seretary of the party in order to have a control on EPS.
Earlier, after the SC verdict convicted Sasikala and sentenced her for four years of imprisonment, OPS revolted against her, met the governor to withdraw his resignation. Governor made his the caretaker Chief Minister.
Soon after Sasikala was lodged in the prison, a sort of coup was laid against OPS by TTV. 122 MLAs were lodged in a resort in the outskirts of Chennai. Then EPS met the Governor and staked claim to form the government and subsequently he won the vote of confidence with the support of 122 MLAs at the floor of the assembly. Meanwhile, Election Commission ordered by-election for Jayalalitha’s constituency RK Nagar after freezing the ‘Two Leaves’ symbol. Soon EC cancelled the by-poll as its observers submitted authentic evidences and proofs for bribing of the electorate by the political parties, more by the ruling faction of AIADMK.
In the meantime, based on intelligence inputs, the IT department conducted raids at offices and various other places belonging to Health Minister Vijaybaskar including his residence and found unaccounted money to the tune of several crores and incriminating documents including those which clearly established the ‘cash for votes’ distributed to the electorate of RK Nagar constituency.
Close on the heels of IT raids at Vijayabaskar’s offices, Delhi police detained TTV Dinakaran for his attempts to bribe the Election Commission officials to get back the ‘Two Leaves’ symbol. The raids at minister Vijayabaskar’s offices and the detention of TTV sent shockwaves in EPS circles, while the OPS faction was watching the developments with glee. Many ministers developed cold feet in anticipation of IT raids. Secret talks started happening among all the stakeholders and an idea of merger of OPS and EPS factions was floated. OPS and his supporters wanted to get back to power using the merger option and EPS and his supporters wanted to send a peace message to center through thesamer option. In the bargain both the factions decided to isolate the Mannargudi family.
However, 19 MLAs, who preferred to continue their loyalty to Sasikala, got in touch with TTV, who duly shifted them to a resort in Pondicherry. With this development, the number of MLAs supporting EPS came down to 116. The MLAs supporting TTV met the governor and gave letters saying that they are withdrawing their support to Chief Minister EPS. Subsequently one MLA (S.T.K.Jakkaiyan from Cumbum constituency) came back to EPS after a few days.
Meanwhile, Leader of Opposition and DMK’s Working President Stalin filed a case in High Court on 12 September 2017 praying for a direction for conduction of floor test in the assembly under the supervision of an independent observer appointed by the High Court.
Even while the debate was going on in media and political circles based on the opinions of constitutional experts, the TN Assembly Speaker T.Dhanapal disqualified the 18 MLAs on the ground of ‘Defection’. Immediately all the 18 MLAs moved the HC against their disqualification. Justice M.Duraiswamy, who heard the petitioners, gave in interim order refusing to stay the disqualification and extending the stay on conduction of floor test up to 4th October. The order also directed that there should not be any notification to conduct elections in the 18 constituencies of the disqualified MLAs. The case, along with DMK’s earlier petition will be heard by the HC on 4th October. DMK is also mulling an option of resigning en masse from the Assembly to force a midterm poll, if the verdict goes against it.
While AIADMK is vertically split and the government’s fate hinges on the HC verdict, DMK is trying is level best to bring down the government by forming a united opposition against it. With Congress and Indian Union Muslim League as allies, DMK could also manage to get the support of Communist parties and VCK (Dalit party) although they have no representation in the assembly. This opposition combine is busy conducting public meetings across the state campaigning against both the central and state governments.
On the other side of the state’s political spectrum, Dravidian racist, Tamil separatist and anti-national outfits like DK, NTK (Naam Thamizhar Katchi), May 17 Movement, TPDK (ThanthaiPeriyarDravidarKazhagam), along with Maoist and Naxaliteoutfits, have been indulging in continuous protests against the policies and programs of NDA government. The anti-national and anti-Modi campaign, which started with the Jallikattu issue, is going on non-stop making an issue out of every step taken by the center, the latest being NEET. All these protests have the same anti-National, anti-BJP/RSS, anti-Brahmin, anti-Modi and anti-Hinduingredients. And expectedly, all these protests have been pushed from behind by Islamic and Christian forces, which are fundamentally adversarial to the idea of a united India. Minority educational institutions are in the forefront of the protests against NEET and they invite Separatists to address their students. Christian Medical College, Vellore openly protested against NEET and St.Joseph’sCollehe, Trichy hosted separatist leader Seeman to address its students. The minority educational institutions motivate their students to join the protests organized by those separatists and anti-nationals.
Since most of the politicians own medical colleges as well, they are all against the idea of NEET. Almost all political parties except BJP have their own newspapers, magazines and TV channels and they utilize this media strength fully to campaign against NDA government, Prime Minister and BJP. The supposed suicide of a scheduled caste student Anitha (who went up to the Supreme Court challenging NEET) is a case in point. She was allegedly pushed to the extreme by DMK and an individual by name Prince GajendraBabu, a Christian fundamentalist masquerading as an educationist. They misled and encouraged her to challenge NEET at the court of law. Immediately after the news of her suicide came, all the political parties and the separatist outfits in the state rushed to her house and started playing politics over her dead body. They attempted to use her death fully to create a statewide unrest. The state government on its part failed to approach the center for a CBI enquiry into Anitha’s death, with an intention of playing to the gallery on the issue of NEET. This emboldened the anti-national forces further.
Embroiled in the mess of its own creation, the government is directionless and is unable to arrest the anti-national and separatist campaign going on freely in the state. It is also conspicuous by its pussy footing on the issue of NEET and the release of separatist Thirumurgan Gandhi (President, May 17 Movement) who was imprisoned under Goondas Act. Emboldened by the release, he continues with his anti-national and separatist agenda.
ViduthalaiChiruthaikalKatchi president Thirumavalavan convened a “State Autonomy Conference” on 17 September, where in, all the politicalleaders openly advocated separatism in the guise of voicing for state autonomy.
In this kind of a sordid and chaotic political environment, actor Kamal Hassan induced it further by his series of tweets against the state and central governments. Some of his tweets were racist and chauvinistic bordering on separatism and anti-nationalism. He was seen flirting with DK and DMK on a few occasions. Later in an interview to India Today, he made his intentions of joining politics clear and his ambition of becoming CM.
While the media and political pundits were debating the chances of his launching a new political party, Delhi CM and President of AAP ArvindKejriwal visited Kamal Hassan for a luncheon meeting. He had reportedly invited Kmal to join his party. On an earlier occasion Kamal had said that he was even willing to work with Rajini. However, Rajini preferred to remain silent.
In the cover story titled, “Jayalalithaa Death and What Next?” (Uday India dated 16 December 2016), this writer had clearly mentioned two tasks cut out for the BJP (read center). The first one was that, it should isolate the Mannargudi family while managing to keep the AIADMK government intact, and, it should bring all the ill-gotten wealth, properties and assets of the Mannargudi family under the radar of IT and other departments. Although the Mannargudi family seemed to be isolated, the action being taken against them doesn’t seem to be enough. The center should pull its socks and initiate all the required steps to bring the entire Mannargudi family to book.
Secondly, this writer had cautioned, “The absence of Jayalalitha and the subsequent split in the party, if it happens, would not augur well for the country in general and the state in particular. An unstable scenario may lead to the rise of chauvinistic, separatist and anti-national forces which would certainly strike a deal with Islamic terrorists, Maoists, evangelical forces and foreign funded NGOs, which is not new to Tamil Nadu”. This is what has happened exactly! Therulig party is split and anti-national forces have risen to huge proportions.
DMK, which is bent upon regaining power, will go to any length to achieve its objective. At present it is seen striking deal with all anti-national forces and Stalin is even willing to have a deal with TTV.
The need of the hour for Tamil Nadu is a strong government supported duly by the center. It is time the Election Commission decides on the legality of the General Secretary post of Sasikala which will automatically decide the fate of TTV’s Deputy General Secretary Post. The EC must also take a decision to defreeze the ‘Two Leaves’ symbol. It is also time for the center to speed up the investigation onMannargudi Family’s ill-gotten wealth leading to the arrest of TTV and others. An investigation into the murder of a security guard at Jaya’s Kodanadu estate (Pseudo secretariat run by Jaya during her brief sojourns there) and the accident in which her Kodanadu driver, (the main accused in the Kodanadu murder case) died, is also needed. Such actions will force the 18 MLAs to return to the party and the government will be strong and safe acting as per the dictate of the center.
After ensuring the stability of the present government the center must focus on all the separatist and anti-national outfits in the state and initiate legal actions against them.
A ruthless approach and immediate actions from the center is the need of the hour.
By B.R.Haran from Chennai