TTV Dinakaran's Melur speech may not set Tamil Nadu political box office afire, but is a worthy first day first show

Mere paas Amma hai. That was the sum and substance of TTV Dinakaran's speech at Melur in Madurai on Janmashtami with VK Sasikala's nephew devoting a significant portion of his speech to emphasise his association with J Jayalalithaa.

"I am the true heir of Amma. In 2000, she wanted to make me the youth secretary and get me to tour the entire state,'' he claimed.

File image of TTV Dinakaran. CNN-News18

File image of TTV Dinakaran. CNN-News18

Was Melur then a blockbuster performance by Dinakaran? It did not set Tamil Nadu's political box office on fire but it certainly was an impressive first-day first show for sure, with his posters and hoardings occupying background space with MGR, Jayalalithaa and Sasikala at the meeting venue. It was a meeting intended to tell Chennai and Delhi that Dinakaran can be ignored at their own peril.

With 20 MLAs and four MPs, Dinakaran sent across the message that his faction of the AIADMK holds the key to the longevity of the government in Chennai. Three independent MLAs also have extended support to him. Technically, it reduces the Edappadi Palaniswamy government to a minority government should these 20 lawmakers vote against it.

The crowd turnout of anywhere above 25,000 people was to puncture the O Panneerselvam's camp constant claim that the AIADMK cadre backs it. While the crowd, like in all political public meetings, would be an organised and paid affair, the impressive visuals would worry the other two camps, the OPS faction in particular.

For one, Dinakaran in terms of number of MLAs has double the support than OPS. Two, Dinakaran seemed intent to hijack Panneerselvam's main demand for a probe into Jayalalithaa's death.

"You (Edappadi Palaniswamy) should order a judicial inquiry (into Jayalalithaa's death). Only then the truth will be revealed,'' said Dinakaran. But the turning of the knife was in the manner in which Dinakaran pointed out that the man in charge of the government at that time — both during the period when Jayalalalithaa was hospitalised and after her death — was OPS. "Those claiming to fight for dharma yudham should be probed first,'' he said.

The presence of 20 MLAs also puts a spanner in the works of a possible merger of the two factions of the AIADMK. Because even if OPS were to join hands with EPS, the government would still not have more than 114 MLAs, three short of a majority. This show of strength threatens to make OPS irrelevant in the scheme of things in AIADMK politics.

But then OPS has Delhi's back, perhaps his only calling card. The former chief minister has been banking on Delhi to provide him with a Sanjeevani herb to revive his political career that does not seem to be going anywhere. With Dinakaran flexing his muscle, even the hopes of leading the party and becoming deputy chief minister, evaporate into thin air.

Where does Dinakaran go from here? He is positioning himself as the leader who went to jail in a case involving an attempt to get the party symbol. In the eyes of the party cadre, the 40-day stint in Tihar jail has given him some kind of a halo as it is seen as a worthwhile cause to have fought for, even though Dinakaran obviously denies any attempt to bribe an EC official.

Then there is also resentment over the manner in which both OPS and EPS kowtow before the BJP in Delhi, for fear of raids by income tax officials. Dinakaran is borrowing from the Jayalalithaa template of standing up to the Centre, talking about preparing the party for the 2019 general elections.

What the muscle flexing can do at best is to ensure that EPS cannot treat Dinakaran as a pushover. Dinakaran's appointment as deputy general secretary has been declared null and void by EPS. Now the chief minister faces the embarrassment of staying on in that post, at Dinakaran's mercy.

But then Dinakaran gains nothing by bringing down his own party's government. An election may end up with the three factions of the AIADMK giving the DMK power on a platter with the Jayalalithaa vote splitting three ways. The Mannargudi family's attempt would be to get more MLAs on to its side and consolidate its position and bargaining power.

"I have been with the party since 1987. Most of the MPs and MLAs were identified by me,'' he claimed, stressing his position as the first among equals in the AIADMK hierarchy.

Independence Day was spoken of as the deadline for the merger of the EPS and OPS factions. But the Janmashtami spectacle means there is no freedom from AIADMK's tu tu main main politics for Tamil Nadu.

Updated Date: Aug 15, 2017 06:45 AM

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