Amit Shah and Tamil Nadu CM discuss Sasikala’s possible return
Union home minister Amit Shah, Tamil Nadu chief minister Edappadi Palaniswami and deputy CM O Panneerselvam discussed the possibility of the return of V K Sasikala, the late J Jayalalithaa’s confidante and companion, and her nephew TTV Dhinakaran (of the Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam) into the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, or AIADMK. Two Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders familiar with the proceedings said on condition of anonymity that meeting went up to 1am in Chennai on March 1.
The BJP and the AIADMK are contesting the elections together.
Elections to the Tamil Nadu assembly are scheduled on April 6. Responding to the BJP’s suggestion that Sasikala and Dinakaran be inducted in the AIADMK, a senior BJP leader who accompanied Shah to the meetings, he said, “it is our political strategy. We discussed it among many other things at the meeting.”
A second BJP leader claimed such a re-entry would prevent the split of anti-Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam votes. “It seems to be a clash within the AIADMK but they seem to be softening on their stance. A formula will be worked out in a day or two,” he said.
Sasikala, whom the AIADMK expelled in 2017 continues to identify herself as the party’s general secretary. Her return, after serving a four-year sentence in a disproportionate assets case was expected to destabilise the AIADMK but that hasn’t happened. The AIADMK has stonewalled Sasikala and her family and rejected talks of a merger with AMMK. “Public sentiment is against her and the grass roots cadre also want status-quo,” a senior AIADMK leader said on condition of anonymity. AMMK, floated in 2018 with a breakaway faction of Sasikala’s supporters made its political debut in the 2019 parliamentary elections with a 5% vote share. “AMMK can cause a loss of at least 25-30 seats for the AIADMK in the Tanjore, Pudukkottai, Ramanathapuram belt,” said political commentator Sriram Seshadri.
DMK signs seat-sharing pact with two parties
The principal opposition Dravida Munnetra Kazhaga (DMK) on Monday signed seat-sharing pact with the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) and the Manithaneya Makkal Katchi (MMK), apportioning them three and two seats, respectively. DMK chief MK Stalin signed the deal with IUML’s Kader Mohideen whose party would contest under their ladder symbol.