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TTV Dinakaran's path to reclaim AIADMK leadership fraught with challenges from EPS and OPS factions

Does TTV Dinakaran (also spelt as Dhinakaran) fancy himself to be the Oviya army, marching in to take over the AIADMK headquarters? In a state that seems to be quite taken in by Bigg Boss, a political version of the show is waiting to be played out in Chennai. The high point could be the Saturday episode, when Dinakaran may march to Royapettah to show he remains the AIADMK 'Bigg Boss' by proxy. If he does so, it would be a way to avoid elimination from the power race.

In February, when O Panneerselvam revolted against VK Sasikala, before she was convicted in the disproportionate assets case, it seemed to be end game for the Mannargudi family. The family, however, managed to stay afloat by ensuring one of their own, Edappadi Palaniswamy, became the next chief minister. But since then, EPS has displayed more loyalty to the chair than to the kingmaker. The chief minister has tried to be in the good books of the BJP by sidelining Dinakaran; almost happy to nominate him for eviction from the AIADMK house.

By announcing that he will enter the AIADMK head office, Dinakaran is trying to tell the BJP that he is the one who matters. Or at least that they cannot afford to ignore him. The Dinakaran camp was piqued at the manner in which its support was not sought for the NDA candidate Ram Nath Kovind in the presidential elections. Dinkaran also had to face the humiliation of announcing his support unilaterally.

File image of AIADMK leader TTV Dhinakaran. PTI

File image of AIADMK leader TTV Dinakaran. PTI

Since the last week, there has been much speculation over the AIADMK joining the BJP-led NDA. While there is no basis for the rumour-mongering, Dinakaran wants to ensure that should anything materialise, it is his number that is on Delhi's speed dial, given his position as deputy general secretary, and not that of EPS.

Dinakaran is also taking a leaf out of party history. Old timers recall how in 1988, Jayalalithaa led a similar march to the AIADMK office with her small band of supporters to send a message to the AIADMK government led by Janaki Ramachandran, MGR's widow. That was Jayalalithaa's dramatic way of showing she is the one who mattered. In a party where sepia-toned flashbacks matter immensely, Chinnamma's nephew is trying to do an Amma.

EPS has been careful in his utterances, choosing to take on a Kamal Haasan, instead of his rivals within the party. He has spent the past six months consolidating his Gounder community base, that would now be less than willing to cede political space to the Thevar community to which both Dinakaran and OPS belong. EPS is also strategically going to be in Perambalur on Saturday, which will force the police to decide on how to handle Dinakaran's march on its own.

Having lost much ground due to a 40-day stint in Tihar Jail, Dinakaran needs to catch up. This is because OPS and EPS have been touring the state, in a bid to strengthen their hold over the cadre.

Dinakaran's hopes to be the king, however, will be a case of overestimating himself. There is considerable ill-will against the family on the ground and given that he has legal issues to take care of, the return of the native won't be so easy. To gain political legitimacy will be a herculean task for him, despite the minuscule support he enjoys in the AIADMK legislature party.

But at the same time, not everything is ranged against Dinakaran. He has been smart enough to not vent his frustration in public, giving the two factions of the AIADMK 60 days to sort out their differences and merge. However, it was obviously a non-starter given that the biggest impediment to a merger are Dinakaran and Sasikala themselves.

However, he has let his supporters like Perambur MLA Vetrivel speak. Vetrivel has warned that ministers who speak against Dinakaran and Sasikala will be shown the door.

The Mannargudi family came together for a condolence meeting last month at which both Dinakaran and Dhivakaran, Sasikala's brother, were present. The realisation has dawned on the clan that divisions between them will be exploited by the non-Mannargudi part of the AIADMK. Most believe the 60-day period that Dinakaran announced was more to sort out the differences within the family.

A not very vocal minority in the AIADMK feels that even if the taint of going to jail is on Dinakaran, it was for the cause of the party. They point out that the charge of bribery could not even be proven against Dinakaran, despite the might of the Union government against him.

This section is also not pleased with the manner in which OPS and EPS have allowed the BJP to control the AIADMK from the backseat. This, they point out, is quite a contrast from the Jayalalithaa era, when she would not brook any interference from Delhi in Tamil Nadu affairs.

Clearly, in the alphabet soup politics of the AIADMK, the final word on who among the EPS, TTV and OPS factions will have the final laugh, has not yet been said.

Updated Date: Aug 04, 2017 13:54 PM

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