The political battle within the ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) in Tamil Nadu appears to be heading in the right direction. In the early hours of Wednesday the rebel faction of the party’s MLAs headed by former chief minister O Panneerselvam joined hands with a majority of MLAs in the opposite camp, now headed by current chief minister Edappadi K Palaniswami, to sideline party general secretary VK Sasikala and TTV Dinakaran, Sasikala’s nephew and the AIADMK’s deputy general secretary.
Since the demise of AIADMK leader and chief minister J Jayalalithaa in December, Sasikala and her family members have taken over the party structure, or what little of it that exists. This was a move widely opposed by the party cadre.
Politically, the continuation of Sasikala or any member of the infamous ‘Mannargudi mafia’ comprising her family members in the AIADMK should be a concern of the party. But because there isn’t a clear church-state separation, it is most likely that party leaders would meddle with the free functioning of a democratically-elected government. Thus, the sidelining of Sasikala and Dinakaran in the AIADMK is a positive move. One could argue that there could be better ways of handling this crisis, but there’s little doubt that the ouster of leaders charged with corruption will send the right message to the rank and file of the party.
It is hoped that with this internal churning the ruling party in the southern state gets a grip on itself and turn its focus on governance. While the ruling party’s legislators were gravitating from one power centre to the other, in the national capital the protest by drought-hit farmers from Tamil Nadu entered its 38th day. The protest is just an indicator of the dire situation in the state. Tamil Nadu is facing a severe drought with alarmingly low levels of water in reservoirs and power outages becoming a regular feature.
It is time the ruling AIADMK and its MLAs gave a break to midnight caucuses and turned their attention to the people.