In a decisive turn in Tamil Nadu politics on Monday, the AIADMK (Amma) faction has deiced to keep away ‘interim’ general secretary Sasikala, in jail in a disproportionate assets case, and deputy general secretary Dinakaran, wanted by police for allegedly trying to bribe election officials, from the government and party, paving the way for a merger with the rebel group headed by former Tamil Nadu chief minister O Panneerselvam.
The decision has come after Panneerselvam ruled out any possibility of a merger without expelling the Sasikala family. “Jayalalithaa kept Sasikala's family away when in power. No dialogue if they remain in party,” Panneerselvam said.
Emerging from a meeting of and attended by 12 ministers, six MLAs and two MPs, that went on almost one and a half hours, Fisheries Minister D Jayakumar said that a decision to boot out Sasikala and his nephew has been taken keeping in mind the sentiment of the cadre. He also said that the decision has the backing of 122 MLAs.
However, shortly after Jayakumar’s announcement, six party MLAs extended support to deputy general secretary Dhinakaran. He has summoned a meeting of party’s 122 lawmakers on Wednesday after the cabinet decided to “delink” the party’s two bosses from the “government and the party”.
Elaborating on the development, Jayakumar said a committee will be formed to decide on the further course of action, adding that not one family can control AIADMK.
The 1.5 crore cadres of the AIADMK wish that Dinakaran and his family are kept away from the party affairs. So we have decided that Dinakaran and his family will not have any influence in matters of the party and government. ...Our aim is to keep the party together. The cadres don’t want TTV Dhinakaran to lead the party. To put it bluntly, Sasikala and her family cannot lead the partyD. Jayakumar, fisheries minister
The former declaration on the matter is expected on Wednesday.
Panneerselvam also demanded inquiry in to the “many malpractices” in RK Nagar as well as a Judicial probe into Jayalalithaa’s death.
However, OPS, who reached Chennai from Madurai late in the evening, refused to comment on the latest development. His camp confirmed that the latest move by the official faction “has opened the doors for talks on the merger”.
AIADMK spokesperson Ponnaiyan said that Sasikala is not the General Secretary of the party. “Her election was illegal. We do not consider her the General Secretary,” he said.
Tamil Nadu minister K. A. Sengottaiyan, after holding discussions with Dinakaran, said, “We briefed Dinakaran about yesterday’s (Monday’s) discussions. We will take all efforts to stay united and reclaim the party’s symbol.”
However, Sasikala will continue to “lead” the party on paper, since the Election Commission is examining the legality of her appointment. An expulsion will be possible only after the Commission comes to a decision.
The first signs of a merger had emerged Monday after the Delhi Police booked AIADMK (Amma) leader Dhinakaran for allegedly trying to bribe an Election Commission official in a failed bid to obtain the coveted “two-leaves” party symbol for his faction.