Amma of all battles for AIADMK: Dinakaran faces the heat in RK Nagar bypoll in Tamil Nadu
A lot is riding on the outcome of the multi-cornered contest. Apart from personal prestige, the contest is also between rival AIADMK factions over staking claim to Jayalalithaa’s political legacy.india Updated: Apr 07, 2017 12:29 IST
Electioneering under a scorching summer sun is never easy and TTV Dinakaran is feeling the heat more than anyone else in Chennai’s RK Nagar constituency that will hold an assembly by-election on April 12.
Dinakaran, the nephew of jailed J Jayalalithaa-aide Sasikala, is a powerful person in Tamil Nadu as her aunt’s faction of the AIADMK is in power now. He is also the deputy general secretary of the party. Yet, as a candidate, popular perception about him is not very favourable and there is growing speculation that he may lose the electoral battle in RK Nagar.
Of all the seats going for by-polls across the country this month, RK Nagar – the seat which former chief minister Jayalalithaa represented until her death last December – holds the biggest political significance.
A lot is riding on the outcome of the multi-cornered contest. Apart from personal prestige, the contest is also between rival AIADMK factions over staking claim to Jayalalithaa’s political legacy.
A victory for Dinakaran would cement his and his aunt’s hold over the ruling party. A loss, on the contrary, could encourage many within the party to raise their voice against the duo and result in desertions with many joining the rival faction led by former chief minister O Panneerselvam.
Largely dominated by slum dwellers and members of the working class, RK Nagar is seen to hold the key to which faction of the AIADMK finally comes on top after weeks of bitter feuding since Jayalalithaa’s death.
Besides Dinakaran, others in the fray include E Madhusudhanan of the OPS faction of the AIADMK, BJP’s Gangai Amaran, and Deepa Jayakumar, Jayalalithaa’s niece who is contesting as an independent. In all, 62 candidates are in the fray, though the spotlight is more on the candidates of the two AIADMK factions.
According to Bernard D’sami of Loyola College, the public mood favours the OPS candidate, who is seen to be a tall leader commanding peoples’ respect. He had been a staunch loyalist of Jayalalithaa and was closely associated with her since she branched out on her own after her mentor MG Ramachandran’s death.
“But it is difficult to call the election at this point of time. It still remains a close contest since money power is also at play here,” said Sami. According to him, Dinakaran himself is not very popular. The womenfolk of the constituency too seem to have little sympathy for Sasikala.
Functionaries of the OPS faction say Dinakaran and his men have already read the writing on the wall and begun crying wolf. Earlier this week, their official party organ complained that “defective EVMs” were to be deployed in RK Nagar. It also accused the OPS camp of misrepresenting its symbol of twin electric poles to make it seem like the now frozen original AIADMK symbol of twin leaves.
“All these are signs of nervousness as they know they have already lost the election,” alleged G Ramachandran, an office bearer of the IT wing of the OPS faction.
Dinakaran’s camp, however, is putting up a brave face while sweating it out along the narrow lanes of RK Nagar. What the outcome will be is not known. What is known is that the result will have a huge bearing on the Sasikala faction of the AIADMK with the by-election marking a make or break moment for it.