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Wednesday, Nov 13, 2019

Hammered in elections, Dhinakaran’s partymen make beeline for AIADMK

A number of AMMK leaders and cadre are now heading back to the parent party AIADMK which is led by Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami and his deputy O Panneerselvam.

india Updated: Jun 19, 2019 18:59 IST
M Manikandan
M Manikandan
Hindustan Times, Chennai
The AMMK, floated by former AIADMK leader TTV Dhinakaran  has been rocked by desertions after the party’s disastrous performance in the recent Lok Sabha elections and Assembly bypolls in Tamil Nadu.
The AMMK, floated by former AIADMK leader TTV Dhinakaran has been rocked by desertions after the party’s disastrous performance in the recent Lok Sabha elections and Assembly bypolls in Tamil Nadu.(PTI FILE PHOTO)
         

After a disastrous performance in the recent Lok Sabha elections and 22 assembly bypolls in Tamil Nadu, where it failed to win a single seat, the Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam (AMMK) floated by rebel AIADMK leader TTV Dhinakaran is facing an existential crisis with mass desertion by leaders and cadre.

A number of them are switching their loyalty back to the AIADMK led by chief minister Edappadi K Palaniswami (EPS) and his deputy O Panneerselvam (OPS).

Dhinakaran who successfully won Jayalalithaa’s RK Nagar assembly by-polls in December 2017 had floated the AMMK in March 2018 after falling out with EPS-OPS. While launching AMMK, Dhinakaran had claimed that AMMK would retrieve the AIADMK’s flag and symbol from the EPS and OPS-led faction.

Since Dhinakaran initially attracted massive crowds during electioneering, parties and analysts assumed that AMMK would play a key role in determining the outcome of the polls. The former AIADMK leader had also claimed that while MLAs, district secretaries, block secretaries were with the EPS and OPS-led AIADMK, core workers of the party were backing AMMK.

However, AMMK’s failure in Lok Sabha elections and assembly-polls despite polling nearly 8% of votes cast and the fact that its candidates lost deposits in all constituencies has lead to a reassessment of Dhinakaran’s strength.

The AIADMK which was in a do-or-die battle having to win at least eight assembly seats to save the government did so by winning nine of the 22 assembly seats in the bypolls.

Though Dhinakaran himself was dismissive of his party’s performance in polls saying “defeat and victory are normal in politics”, the AMMK cadre seems to have different views. RP Adhithan, a former legislator and AMMK’s organizing secretary was the first one to switch loyalties after the polls. Adhithan met Palaniswami last week and returned to the AIADMK.

Adhithan said the people’s mandate has proved that EPS-OPS led AIADMK was the real one.

“Voters gave nine more seats to the AIADMK and saved the government. It is obvious people have accepted EPS and OPS. So, I have moved to the real AIADMK’s which has the two leaves symbol,” said Adhithan.

Apart from Adhithan, many AMMK’s middle-rung leaders and workers have been meeting AIADMK ministers and districts secretaries for their re-entry into the AIADMK.

K Venkatesan, an AMMK functionary from Chennai Anna Nagar also agreed with Adhithan saying that he wants to return to the AIADMK.

Also read: AIADMK veteran demands overhaul in party leadership

“People have widely accepted EPS and OPS-led AIADMK and their governance. So, we came back to support the government which was formed due to the hard work of our late Amma (Jayalalithaa).”

One of three ‘rebel’ AIADMK MLAs who had openly backed AMMK before polls is also mulling his options. VT Kalaiselvan, Rathina Sabapathy, and A Prabhu are the AIADMK three MLAs expressed their support to TTV Dhinakaran. However, after the election results, Kalaiselvan has recanted and now says that he will support the AIADMK. Sabapathy and Prabhu have not disclosed their stance yet.

Despite the desertions, the AMMK put up a brave face.

“We don’t worry that a few people are moving away from us. Even after the elections, many AIADMK members still want to join the AMMK. So, just a single electoral loss does not mean end of our party,” said CR Saraswathi, the party’s spokesperson.

Aazhi Senthilnathan, a political analyst from Chennai said the defection from AMMK to the official AIADMK was expected given the performance of the two parties in the polls.

“The recent elections are not just about winning or losing business for AIADMK and AMMK. It was a litmus test for both the leaders to lead AIADMK. If Dhinakaran had managed to win seats or even decide the eventual outcome, leaders and workers might have crossed over to AMMK. But, EPS-OPS-led AIADMK won nine MLAs. The government is also safe now. So, it is natural that AMMK workers will want to come back to official AIADMK.”