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Monday, Sep 16, 2019

Sasikala banners removed from AIADMK office, OPS camp says ‘positive step’

AIADMK has been embroiled in a bitter rift between the Palaniswami and OPS camps after the death of late chief minister J Jayalalithaa in December last year.

india Updated: Apr 28, 2017 00:28 IST

Hindustan Times, Chennai
VK Sasikala speaks to media at Poes Garden in Chennai.
VK Sasikala speaks to media at Poes Garden in Chennai.(PTI File Photo)

Party workers pulled down posters and cutouts of AIADMK (Amma) general secretary VK Sasikala at its headquarters in Chennai on Wednesday, hours after the arrest of her nephew and the faction’s deputy general secretary TTV Dinakaran, indicating the shape of things to come in the beleaguered ruling faction in Tamil Nadu.

Dinakaran was arrested by Delhi Police on Tuesday night over allegations that he paid a bribe to a middleman to get the disputed two-leaves party symbol for his faction. He was arrested along with his aide Mallikarjun after 3 days of questioning at the Chanakyapuri crime branch office.

The dispute over the symbol erupted after the AIADMK split into Sasikala-led AIADMK (Amma) and former chief minister O Panneerselvam’s AIADMK (Puratatchi Thalaivi Amma) following the death of party supremo and then Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa. The rival camp is now led by chief minister Edapaddi Palaniswami, a Sasikala loyalist.

Workers at the party headquarters tore down the posters as demanded by Panneerselvam-led group’s presidium chairperson E Madhusudanan as a precondition for the talks between the two factions for a merger.

“This is definitely a positive step. We are happy the cadres have decided to remove the banners,” media coordinator of the Panneerselvam-led camp ‘Aspire’ K Swaminathan told news agency PTI.

The Panneerselvam camp has stuck to its demands of the expulsion of Sasikala, Dinakaran and other family members from the AIADMK and a CBI probe into the death of late chief minister J Jayalalithaa as pre-conditions for talks.

“Now that Dinakaran has been arrested and his aunt Sasikala is serving a sentence, slowly the EPS camp is realising the altered ground situation and might be more eager to commence merger talks,” a senior leader from the Panneerselvam camp told Hindustan Times on Wednesday morning.

The arrest of Dinakaran and his aide sent shockwaves in the ruling faction with the prospect of more names tumbling out in the case. The number of supporters of Dinakaran is already dwindling, as there were not many backers on Wednesday morning.

According to sources, both sides were continuing with back-channel talks but Dinakaran’s arrest is expected to accelerate the matter in the AIADMK, especially as the opposition DMK has begun amassing allies and preparing for any eventuality.

The tone and tenor of the AIADMK (Amma) district office bearers meeting for the second day on Wednesday is expected to change as the leaders are likely to impress upon the cadres on the need to maintain unity, an euphemism for distancing from the Mannargudi Mafia.

“Mannargudi mafia” is a derisive reference to Sasikala’s hometown and the alleged corrupt dealings of her family that enjoyed immense clout in early days of Jayalalithaa’s rule.

Other than Thanga Tamilselvam, an MLA known to be a close supporter of Dinakaran, not many were willing to be seen as supporting either Sasikala or Dinakaran, especially as the situation remained fluid.

Sources in both the camps indicated that there were chances of formal merger talks to start sometime in the afternoon.

However, there was no official confirmation as yet.

Panneerselvam’ supporters and his core team are also expected to hold a meeting and take stock of the emerging political situation after Dinakaran’s arrest. The group is also watching out for, as is the EPS camp, on the possible revelations from investigators.

Notwithstanding the progress of merger talks or lack of it, the Paneerselvam camp is going ahead with its case before the Election Commission and submitted 6000 more affidavits to the poll panel that is considering its claim as being the real party.

It has also challenged the validity of Sasikala’s election as the general secretary and questioned all the decisions she took as general secretary of the party.

First Published: Apr 26, 2017 10:45 IST