Will AIADMK Survive or Succumb?
Both MGR and Jayalalitha, the undisputed leaders, who took their party AIADMK to great heights, must be turning in their graves, at the pathetic state of affairs prevailing now in the party, that too within one year of forming a government for the second consecutive time after a resounding victory in the 2016 Assembly Polls.
Ever since, former CM Jayalalitha was admitted to Apollo Hospitals (on 22nd September 2016) due to ill-health, governance in Tamil Nadu has come to a standstill, barring a few days when OPS took the mantle as CM after Jaya’s death.
Even while Jaya was recuperating in the hospital and Sasikala was holding fort there, the BJP government at the center had started calling the shots rather diplomatically through the Governor Vidyasagar Rao.
Immediately after his first visit to Apollo hospitals, governor Rao summoned OPS and advised him to take charge of Jayalalitha’s portfolios as well and OPS became the de facto acting CM of Tamil Nadu. He started to toe the center’s line right from the word go, as evidenced by the state’s act of joining the ‘Uday Scheme’ and implementing the ‘Food Security Act’. Although Sasikala was allowed a free run at the hospitals, the center maneuvered cleverly to keep her at bay and making OPS as the CM after the death of Jayalalitha.
After seeing the emergence of OPS as a reasonably better CM, especially after his success in bringing back Jallikattu, firmly controlling the protestors and facing the challenges posed by cyclone Wadhra, Sasikala moved with an aim of taking control of the party. With the help of slavish ministers and MLAs, she anointed herself as the ‘General Secretary’ of the party, although it was not done as per the bylaws of the party.
Then, when she wanted to bring down OPS from the post of Chief Minister unceremoniously with the intention of taking control of the government too, OPS did a master stroke of a revolt by sitting in a sort of ‘penance’ at the Samadhi of his mentor Jayalalitha for more than 45 minutes and then addressing the media from there itself openly speaking against Sasikala and her family. The master stroke clubbed with an open revolt against Sasikala made him a leader of substance overnight and public support poured in from across the state, which was seething in anger against Sasikala and family over the death of Jayalalitha.
However, OPS’s happiness was short-lived, as Sasikala laid a sort of coup against OPS taking control of the party with the support of 123 MLAs. Expectantly OPS ministry fell very much short of the required majority. Although Sasikala had ambitions of becoming the Chief Minister after dislodging OPS, she had to face arrest due to the Supreme Court’s judgment in the Disproportionate Assets Case. As Supreme Court made it clear that it would deliver the judgment any time, Governor Vidyasagar Rao rightly used his discretionary powers in taking time to fix the date for floor test.
After the SC delivered the judgment, Sasikala was left with no other choice but to make one of her loyalists as CM and she chose Edappadi Palanisamy (EPS). However, in order to have a control on him, she made her nephew TTV. Dinakaran as the Deputy General Secretary of the party.
Meanwhile, the Election Commission was petitioned by the OPS faction to investigate her self-anointment to the post of General Secretary of the Party. Her appointment of Dinakaran as Deputy General Secretary also came under threat because of that.
As the by-election for Jayalalitha’s constituency RK Nagar was announced, TTV Dinakaran filed his nomination papers. As the Election Commission froze the Two Leaves Symbol because of the factional feud, OPS faction became AIADMK Puratchi Thalaivi Amma (AIADMKPTA) and Dinakaran faction became AIADMK Amma (AIADMKA) and the two factions were given separate new symbols by the ECI.
DMK fielded a green horn, a move which was allegedly seen as a tacit understanding with OPS faction. BJP fielded Music Maestro Ilayaraja’s brother Gangai Amaran and Communists also filed their nominations. A frenzied campaign started and as usual the Dravidian parties started throwing money.
As Dinakaran started bribing the voters heavily to the tune of Rs.4000/ per vote, the ECI acted on the complaints made by other parties.
The IT department raided the official, personal and business premises of Health Minister Vijaybhaskar and seized crores of money and documents related to bribing of voters.
It also raided the premises of actor Sarathkumar, the President of Samathuva Makkal Katchi (Egalitarian People’s Party), who had thrown his weight behind Dinakaran only the previous day. Unaccounted money and other documents were seized from his premises too. With Prima Facie evidence getting established, the Election Commission countermanded the poll in RK Nagar.
The IT raids at Health Minister’s office had its own impact and the other ministers started worrying about themselves. In another huge blow to Sasikala faction, Delhi police raised a FIR against Dinakaran for attempting to bribe EC officials through a conman named Sukesh Chandrasekhar, who had reportedly struck a deal with Dinakaran. Money and documents were also seized from Sukesh’s premises.
As an imminent arrest of Dinakaran was doing rounds, the state ministers and other senior leaders of the party suddenly revolted against Sasikala, Dinakaran and Mannargudi family. They even sent feelers to OPS faction for a merger with an intention of forming a united front of the party sans Mannargudi family, so that, they could regain the Two Leaves Symbol also.
However, the actual reason for the ministers and senior leaders to ditch Sasikala, Dinakaran and the Mannargudi family is nothing but a clear attempt to save their skin, as they all panicked and got scared anticipating IT raids and other severe actions.
As the EPS faction sent feelers to OPS faction, OPS and other leaders of his faction welcomed them with two important conditions. One, the Mannargudi family must be isolated and removed from the Party; second, a judicial commission must be ordered to investigate the death of former CM Jayalalitha.
As the EPS faction seemingly agreed and moved on with their talks with OPS faction, Dinakaran told the media that he had already started staying away from the party affairs respecting the sentiment of party functionaries. However he had also said that there was no need to resign from the post of Deputy General Secretary, as he is going to stay away from party affairs. Only eight MLAs are in support of Dinakaran.
However, as far as the two factions are concerned, OPS seems to emerge stronger, as he was the first one to revolt against Sasikala and he had already gained a sort of good name among the party functionaries and cadres due to his reasonably good work during the Jallikattu and Cyclone Wardah episodes. Both the factions have formed committees to indulge in talks and the negotiations are slated to be held on Monday 24th April.
The main opposition party DMK is watching the happenings closely, waiting to strike at the right time, with hopes of forming a government, provided the government led by Edappadi Palanisamy loses its
power due to internal ramblings. DMK’s Working President Stalin is also trying to keep other opposition leaders in good humour. As of now, Congress, VCK, IUML and TMMK are with DMK.
Due to the ill-health of Vijayakanth, the already sagging DMDK is going further on the losing track. MDMK, which has already become a nonentity, lost its sheen further after Vaiko got arrested in the 2009 Sedition case. Due to the absence of Vijayakanth and Vaiko from the political scene, the Peoples Welfare Front (Makkal Nala Koottani), which was formed during the assembly elections, lost its relevance. The Communist parties, which were in PWF, are now seen with DMK.
As far as the BJP is concerned, its task is cut out. Sources say that it would prefer a united AIADMK party sans Mannargudi family. An AIADMK government in Tamil Nadu with 38 MPs and 134 MLAs will be a better option for BJP at least until 2019 general elections. Firstly, it can win the Presidential elections with their support. AIADMK’s support in Rajya Saba will be helpful for BJP government. Facing the future elections with the alliance of AIADMK will help the party to have a strong foothold in the Dravidian state.
Even while the Delhi police have been interrogating Dinakaran, it is still not clear if he would be arrested. His statement that he had decided to move away from party affairs is seen only as a tactical move. If he escapes from arrest he will certainly come back with a vengeance and try to take over the party.
But unfortunately for the Mannargudi Mafia, the ‘Sutradari’, Sasikala’s husband Natarajan, is also reportedly suffering from serious health constraints and is recuperating in a city hospital. If his health condition worsens, and if Dinakaran also gets arrested, it would prove to be fatal for the Mannargudi mafia leading to splits and ultimately total destruction.
If the AIADMK factions fail to strike a deal, there will be a possibility for a vertical split and the government may come down. In the absence of a charismatic leader with a mass appeal, the future of AIADMK looks bleak. Whether the party will survive or succumb, depends on the outcome of the negotiations going on between the OPS and EPS factions for a merger.
In the eventuality of the present government coming down due to a vertical split in the ruling party, DMK may use all its strength to form a government. However DMK is also not strong, due to the prolonged ill-health of its supremo Karunanidhi. If he gets out of the political scenario, DMK may also see factional feuds with two more factions led by Azhagiri and Kanimozhi breaking away from Stalin led party.
Almost all the TN political parties and other chauvinistic, fundamentalist and separatist outfits have the same feeling that BJP is fully utilizing the AIADMK factional feud to have a strong footing in the state. So, all of them are trying their level best to spread anti-national, anti-Hindu, anti-BJP, anti-Modi canards across the state at every given opportunity. They utilized Jallikattu protests and anti Hydro Carbon project campaigns for their nefarious designs. The ugly drama which is going on in Janthar Manthar in the name of farmers protests is also of the same design and motive.
Separatism and anti-nationalism are not new phenomenon in the state. The Dravidian Movement itself was based on separatism only. The Sri Lankan Tamil ethnic issue also helped the spread of separatism in the state. Christian and Islamic fundamentalist organizations and foreign funded NGOs have also supported the Dravidian parties and other separatist outfits. Although the decimation of LTTE under Rajapakse government caused a slump in anti-national and separatist activities in the state, they have not gone out of the picture completely. At every opportunity they have been raising their heads, as evidenced by well funded and well staged protests against Koodankulam nuclear power plant, Methane Gas project, Neutrino Project, etc., and also Pro Jallikattu protests, anti-Hydrocarbon project protests and the present Farmers Protests, etc.
A huge section of mainstream media is also under the control of anti-national forces. They have been projecting and highlighting all the above anti-national demonstrations as genuine and are inducing the youth and student community to join such movements. Nowhere in the country, can one see the vernacular mainstream media functioning in such a brazenly anti national manner.
The absolute lack of governance in the state, due to the vertical split in the ruling party, has helped all the anti national forces to raise their heads again increasing their activities. The union Home Ministry and the central intelligence agencies must keep a close and serious watch over the recent developments. The center must rise to the occasion at the earliest, for the state may go beyond repair if the present state of affairs is allowed to continue.
Politically, the state is poised for interesting developments in the days to come and it is a God given opportunity for BJP. BJP should only succeed, for the other national parties like Congress and Communists are nowhere in the picture in the state. The TN BJP, which is as factional as the Congress, should be strongly and severely advised and guided by the national leadership to strive hard with a purpose. The future well being of the state and its people is at stake. BJP, as a party and as a government at the center must realize its responsibility and it should not fail the people of Tamil Nadu.
By B.R.Haran from Chennai