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With AIADMK leaders taking on masters, DMK could be the real gainer in Tamil Nadu

Far from its image of a well administered state, Tamil Nadu has reached a point where it is run by judicial fiats. The government seems hamstrung even in making routine administrative decisions

analysis Updated: Sep 26, 2017 12:05 IST
KV Lakshmana
KV Lakshmana
Hindustan Times
J Jayalalithaa,Edapaddi Palanisami,O Panneerselvam
AIADMK (Amma) deputy general secretary TTV Dinakaran speaks to the media, Chennai. The manner in which OPS revolted – by invoking the soul of Amma – to take on the Mannargudi family, is now part of the state’s political folklore.(PTI)

The political turmoil in Tamil Nadu, triggered by the death of AIADMK chief J Jayalalithaa nine months ago, shows no signs of abating. If only the power struggle within the party has intensified into a high stakes, no-holds-barred battle between assertive former ‘minions’ and their ‘masters’ in TTV Dinakaran and his jailed aunt and former AIADMK general secretary VK Sasikala.

That AIADMK leaders such as chief minister Edapaddi Palanisami and deputy chief minister O Panneerselvam could have an independent mind of their own and challenge the ‘revered’ Chinnamma was unthinkable – by anyone else or even by themselves, and least of all by the ‘masters’ who kept them on the tightest of leashes.

Why EPS and OPS were not too long ago prostrating before Chinnamma and pleaded with her to take over the party and the government. The manner in which OPS revolted – by invoking the soul of Amma – to take on the Mannargudi family that has had its fingers in many pies in Tamil Nadu, is now part of the state’s political folklore. After OPS managed to worm his way back into the AIADMK and government, through a merger managed with a little help from BJP in Delhi, the duo began clawing back the party from the clutches of the Mannargudi family. The duo gathered enough courage and ‘sacked’ Sasikala and Dinakaran from the party posts.

After an attack on its carefully acquired political clout and accompanying business interests under threat, it was only natural that the family would strike back. And this is exactly what Dinakaran did, in consultation with and backing of his jailed aunt Sasikala – and got together his band of loyal MLAs in the party and launched an assault – through letters to governor expressing loss of faith in ‘corrupt’ chief minister Edapaddi Palanisami.

With everything boiling down to the numbers game, given the persistent onslaught of a waiting-in-the-wings DMK, the ruling dispensation chose the disqualification route to bring down the magic number in the assembly and sail through any trial of strength, if needed.

But now, the issue of disqualification of 18 pro-Dinakaran MLAs has turned into a legal battle that will take its own time, as the two sides are expected to go all the way up to the highest court in the land. For now, the Madras High Court has stayed floor tests till the petition challenging the disqualification by MLAs was disposed of. It has also asked the Election Commission not to hold by-elections to 18 vacancies notified by the TN Speaker.

Even as the current intra-AIADMK power struggle is fought inside the courts, outside in the field a new political alignment is taking shape - the AIADMK led by EPS-OPS combine warming up to the BJP. Its efforts to break away from the highly controversial Mannargudi family seem to have the blessings of the BJP leadership.

Since Amma’s death in December, the BJP leadership appeared to have resisted all attempts by Sasikala to take over the government, as was evident in the cautious approach of the acting governor C Vidyasagar Rao. Instead of rushing and swearing in Sasikala, who had been elected the AIADMK legislative party leader, as the CM, the governor preferred to wait for the Supreme Court ruling in the disproportionate assets case. It was the correct decision as subsequent events proved.

Since then, the BJP has gained a potentially strong political ally in a sanitised AIADMK sans the controversial Mannargudi family.

But one thing is certain, given the strong anti-Centre stance taken now by rebel leader Dinakaran, the AIADMK is heading for a vertical split. And what can and should be cause for worry for EPS-OPS combine and its potential allies is that Dinakaran has been attracting huge, responsive crowds at public meetings where he is playing the victim card.

Whether the people will see him as a victim or a villain – only time will tell? But, in all this intra-AIADMK war, it is the DMK that could be the real gainer on the ground.

The AIADMK appears hurtling towards frittering away the people’s mandate and this has not gone down too well with the people as governance suffers.

Tamil Nadu has reached a state where it is virtually run by judicial fiats, far from its image of a well administered state. The government seems hamstrung even in making routine administrative transfers reflecting the turmoil in the state politics.

klakshmana@htlive.com

First Published: Sep 26, 2017 12:05 IST