Upping the ante in his fight against the ruling establishment, sidelined AIADMK deputy general secretary TTV Dhinakaran on Sunday removed Tamil Nadu Chief Minister K Palanisamy from the post of party’s Salem District Secretary.
In a party release in Chennai, Dhinkaran, fighting to assert his supremacy in the wake of recent merger of two AIADMK factions, announced Palanisamy was relieved from his post of Salem Suburban District Secretary effective on Sunday. Palanisamy is also the party’s headquarters secretary but there is no mention about it in Dhinakaran's release.
Dinakaran also claimed he could have become the chief minister immediately after the demise of J Jayalalithaa. “However, I did not desire to become CM...AIADMK General Secretary V K Sasikala chose O Paneerselvam to continue the AIADMK rule,” he said at Avanashi in Tirupur district. Even Sasikala could have chosen to become chief minister, after becoming the party general secretary, but decided against it and instead chose Paneerselvam, he added.
Stating that Chief Minister K Palanisamy had sought votes for him in the run up to the R K Nagar bypoll, Dhinakaran said the Palanisamy and O Panneerselvam camps had come together with “selfish interests” to oppose Sasikala.
Dhinakaran has been sacking several party functionaries, especially district secretaries, a key post in the Dravidian parties' hierarchy, and replacing them with his supporters ever since the merger of AIADMK factions led by Palanisamy and former chief minister O Panneerselvam on 21 August.
After the merger, it has been announced that steps would be taken to expel jailed party general secretary and Dhinakaran's aunt V K Sasikala from the party.
The ruling establishment leaders have also been maintaining that Dhinakaran has no powers to carry out the changes and questioned his re-induction into the party by Sasikala.
With his latest action, Dhinakaran seeks to convey that he is determined to take on even the Chief Minister for their opposition to Sasikala.
He said Salem Suburban District Secretary and former MLA S K Selvam will replace Palaniamy as the district secretary. “Party cadres are asked to extend their cooperation to Selvam,” he said.
Dhinakaran, sidelined by the Palainisamy camp in April last, added that the announcement was being made with the approval of Sasikala, who is serving her jail term in a Bengaluru prison in a corruption case.
Dhinakaran had on Saturday relieved Government Chief Whip S Rajendran from the post of Ariyalur District Secretary days after he wrote to Assembly Speaker P Dhanapal seeking action against 19 MLAs loyal to him.
The MLAs had last week met Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao and expressed their lack of confidence in Palanisamy and sought to replace him, triggering demands by opposition parties, including DMK, for a direction to the Chief Minister to prove his majority in the assembly.
Later, two more AIADMK MLAs have supported the pro-Dhinakaran group, boosting its strength to 21 and all of them are now camping in a star hotel in Puducherry.