The coming together of two rival AIADMK factions led by chief minister K Palanisamy and his predecessor O Panneerselvam is good augury for Tamil politics, for they have closed ranks against the interloper. After the death of J Jayalalitha, it is to their advantage that the all-powerful Mannargudi mafia’s influence is removed from the party set up. The realisation that unless the mafia’s leaders Sasikala and her nephew TTK Dinakaran were given the boot, AIADMK’s credibility as a serious political formation would also come under scrutiny, has driven this rapprochement.
Sasikala, who’s serving a jail term in the disproportionate assets case is physically out of the scene, but the all-powerful ‘Chinnamma’ as this Jayalalithaa’s aide was called, operated through her wily nephew Dinakaran, who was appointed joint general secretary in February this year. Dinakaran’s ouster from the party on Thursday and cancellation of 46 key party appointments made by him was the signal that Palanisamy and Panneerselvan were inching towards a larger merger. Their separate meetings with prime minister Narendra Modi on Friday and their attending the swearing in of M Venkaiah Naidu as vice president at Rashtrapati Bhavan seems to have suggestions of a larger political game plan. AIADMK may well join the Union cabinet in the reshuffle slated for this month. Well, if behind the screen maneuvers are any indication, these factions will stick together not only for political sustainability but also in order to smoothen the running of the state government that has been in disarray since the demise of Jayalalithaa.
The AIADMK consolidation also assumes significance for it preempts rival MK Stalin’s announcement to move yet another ‘no-confidence’ motion later this month after the first one failed to bring down the state government on February 20 this year. Reports from Chennai point to prime minister Modi and BJP president Amit Shah’s blessings for this grand merger of warring AIADMK factions.
This will also bury the fight before the Election Commission for the AIADMK symbol, ‘Two Leaves’. As a logical extension, one cannot rule out the possibility of AIADMK with 50 MPs in Parliament becoming the largest partner in the Modi government at the Centre. Apart from AIADMK leaders getting ministerial portfolios, the central government would also get the elusive majority in the Rajya Sabha. As far as governance is concerned, the Modi government will literally face no opposition for its legislative measures in the Upper House. This will also lay the foundation for BJP, dubbed as a cow belt party, to make a grand entry into Tamil Nadu as junior partner in the state government. If this alliance clicks, the heft BJP will get in 2019 Lok Sabha elections would be huge.