The AIADMK has never had it so bad

N Ramakrishnan Chennai | Updated on January 15, 2018

AIADMK leader TTV Dhinakaran being produced at a Delhi court on Wednesday, in connection with an alleged attempt to bribe officials of the Election Commission - Photo: Shiv Kumar Pushpakar

Ever since its charismatic general secretary J Jayalalithaa died last December, the AIADMK has been careening from one crisis to another, the latest being the arrest of its Deputy General Secretary, TTV Dhinakaran, on charges of attempting to bribe the Election Commission.

The charge against Dhinakaran was that he had used a middleman to bribe EC officials so that his faction of the party would get the AIADMK’s ‘two leaves’ symbol. The poll panel had earlier frozen the symbol when both factions of the party laid claim to it prior to the RK Nagar by-election. The Commission later deferred the by-poll after complaints of widespread attempts to bribe voters.

The by-election was necessitated by the demise of Jayalalithaa, who represented the constituency. Dhinakaran was the Sasikala faction’s candidate for the by-election.

Things may have sailed along smoothly had Jayalalithaa’s confidante Sasikala not attempted to take control of both the party and the government. Not content at being the interim General Secretary of the AIADMK, she got O Panneerselvam to resign as Chief Minister and the legislature party to elect her as its leader. She then staked claim to be Chief Minister. But with the Supreme Court sentencing her to a four-year prison term after finding her guilty in the disproportionate assets case debarred her from holding any public office for 10 years. Jayalalithaa was the first accused in the case and Sasikala, the co-accused.

Before leaving for Bengaluru to surrender before jail authorities, Sasikala nominated Dhinakaran, her nephew, as AIADMK’s Deputy General Secretary, and the legislature party elected Edappadi K Palaniswami as its leader. Palaniswami later proved his majority in the Assembly after pandemonium and through a voice vote.

Even when campaigning was on at RK Nagar, the Income Tax Department raided the official residence of Tamil Nadu Health Minister C Vijaya Baskar, a Sasikala loyalist. Huge sums of money were reportedly unearthed as also documents incriminating a few other Ministers. This put the Palaniswami government on the backfoot, leading to calls for a merger of the two factions.

Panneerselvam, who had played his cards right, laid out two conditions for a merger: Sasikala and her family be ousted from the party and Jayalalithaa’s death probed.

In all this shenanigans, the party’s image has taken a severe beating, while the governance of the State has all but been forgotten.

If the IT Department turns the screws on the other Ministers whose names were found in the documents recovered from Vijaya Baskar’s residence, the Sasikala faction is sure to face more trouble. The Palaniswami camp is already facing the heat and is under pressure to merge and to clean up its image.

For the moment, Panneerselvam and his supporters are sitting pretty.

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Published on April 26, 2017
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