All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) Coordinator and Deputy Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, O Panneerselvam (OPS), found himself in the middle of a raging controversy early this month, as the party’s parliamentary board, of which he is a member, chose his son Ravindranath Kumar as the candidate for the Theni Lok Sabha constituency.

The move has provided ammunition to the Opposition, particularly the Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam (AMMK) headed by TTV Dhinakaran (TTV). It may be recalled that it was OPS’ “Dharma Yutham” (a war in pursuit of dharma ) against the domination of Sasikala and her family that led to a series of events culminating in the split of the AIADMK with OPS and Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami (EPS) heading one group and TTV the other.

The allotment of the seat to Ravindranath has not gone down well even among OPS’ supporters, particularly senior leaders, many of whom feel that the Deputy CM has left them in the lurch, after promising to take care of them at a time when both factions (EPS and OPS) have chosen to join forces.

Says CR Saraswati, a senior AMMK leader and the party’s spokesperson: “OPS is a bundle of contradictions. He has exposed himself with two big lies. First, he alleged a conspiracy in Amma’s (Jayalalithaa's) death and a Commission of Inquiry (Arumugaswamy Commission) was constituted. But so far, he has been avoiding his appearance before the commission under some pretext or another. Two, he said he is against ‘family politics’. And here he is, completely abandoning the leaders who stood by him as he opposed the ‘domination of Sasikala family’, and lobbying for and landing a seat for his son.”

TTV and Jaya’s legacy

Saraswati also dismissed the contention that TTV was a persona non grata even with Jayalalithaa, who had expelled him, and therefore should not be compared with OPS’ son. “OPS’ brother was expelled by the party and OPS readmitted him. Similarly, Ravindranath too was stripped off his party post by Amma for his haughty ways. TTV is the only one who can carry forward her legacy. Amma is the one who thundered ‘Choose between the Lady and Modi’. But these people are calling Modi their ‘daddy’! Do I need to say anything more?"

The fact that the AMMK is leaving no stone unturned to defeat Ravindranath is obvious, as it has fielded Thanga Tamil Selvan, a close confidant of TTV and the erstwhile MLA representing the Andipatti Assembly constituency (he was one of the 18 legislators disqualified by the Speaker for rebelling against EPS).

However, TTV said: “Thangam is a heavyweight, no doubt. But by saying we have fielded a powerful candidate because it is Ravindranath, you are insulting both Thangam and us.”

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