“I am the real successor of Amma,” claimed rebel AIADMK leader and independent candidate TTV Dhinakaran on Sunday after he won the RK Nagar assembly bypoll. Dhinakaran won with a heavy margin, claiming 40,000 more votes than his closest competitor AIADMK’s E Madhusudan.The outcome of the election, first to be held after the demise of former chief minister late J Jayalalithaa in December last year, is perceived to be a litmus test for the ruling AIADMK faction headed by chief minister K Palaniswami and his deputy O Panneeerselvam. “RK Nagar poll leads reflects the mood of the people across Tamil Nadu,” a smiling Dhinakaran said, adding in the same breathe, “People want me to succeed Amma.” “The government will fall in three months,” predicted Dhinakaran, who had earlier claimed to have many sleeper cells within the ruling party. Late chief minister, whose demise necessitated the bypoll, was reverently called Amma (mother) by her supporters and Dhinkaran is trying to position himself as the rightful heir to her legacy. “Symbol is not important, the candidate is,” ousted former deputy general secretary of the AIADMK said, alluding to election commission’s decision to deny him the party’s “two leaves” symbol. He had just 10 days to popularise his election symbol – a pressure cooker-- among the electorate. “Election commission did not give my previous symbol, the hat,” he complained but said “people only saw the candidate (me) and I am thankful for their support,” he said. A victory in Jayalalithaa’s home turf will be a veritable springboat for Dhinakaran’s political career which took a beating after he was sacked along with his aunt VK Sasikala from the AIADMK in September. Political observers say Dhinakaran’s entry into assembly might intensify the power struggle within the AIADMK, as he will now be poised to challenge the government, which he maintained was in minority after 18 MLAs loyal to him withdrew support from it. “Many MLAs would now like to switch side after seeing the result of the RK Nagar byelection,” said an AIADMK leader requesting anonymity. “It is definitely bad news for the AIADMK (EPS-OPS), but it is even worse for the DMK,” said Prof Ramu Manivannan of the Madras University. “It is a bigger problem for the DMK, actually a massive setback for the party that positions itself as the next ruling party,” he said. With their verdict, the voters wanted to send across the message to the political parties that with their silent anger they could make a hero out of nobody, Manivannan observed.