Dramatic change in TN politics
A dramatic change has come about in Tamil Nadu politics. The two factions of the AIADMK, one led by O. Panneerselvam and the other led by Chief Minister K. Palaniswamy, which were fighting each other, each claiming the legacy of Jayalalithaa, have suddenly decided to call it a day and reunite. The OPS faction never accepted Sasikala, now in a Bengaluru jail sentenced in the disproportionate assets case, as the rightful successor of Amma and her legacy. K. Palaniswamy, who was the leader of the majority faction and CM, was in an unenviable position. He had to send his men to meet party General Secretary Sasikala frequently to the Bengaluru jail to take instructions from her as she was the real boss and ran both the party and the government from her prison cell. The meetings were held in gross violation of the rules that laid down how many times a month a prisoner is allowed to meet visitors and how many in number.
Palaniswamy’s position was becoming more and more untenable. The clincher was the FIR filed by the Delhi police against TTV Dinakaran, Sasikala’s nephew and AIADMK deputy general secretary, on the charge that he had tried to bribe the Election Commission for allotting the ‘Two Leaves’ symbol for his faction. The EC had earlier frozen the symbol because each faction of the party claimed it. The possibility of Dinakaran being arrested and Sasikala losing the remote control over the party and the government caused panic in both the camps and suddenly the two sides decided to reunite and work together. The politics in Tamil Nadu is still in a flux as OPS has made it clear that if the two factions merge then he will be the Chief Minister. Palaniswamy can at best be his deputy. Also, Sasikala has to be ‘kept away’ from having any role within the party, directly or indirectly.
Political parties which have no ideology but are centred round the personality of one charismatic leader find themselves orphaned if the leader departs without naming his or her successor. This is what is happening now to the AIADMK. The party has to agree on who will be the leader without the charisma and magnetism of personalities like M. G. Ramachandran or Jayalalithaa. In a way it may be a boon because the AIADMK will learn to function like a really democratic party, based on consensus and not tied to the apron strings of a Super-leader who dictated and others followed without question.