CHENNAI: The moves were on for a few days but when revolt 2.0 erupted late on Tuesday night against general secretary VK Sasikala and her family, it still came as a surprise for many in the State capital. Now, after a series of secret and closed door meetings, the ruling faction has found a common interest with the rebels on one key aspect – keeping the family away from the affairs of the party and its government.
As Express had reported, the pressure has been mounting on deputy general secretary TTV Dhinakaran to stay away from party affairs, with many ministers openly urging him to keep off for the sake of the party’s future. However, while the attention was firmly on Sasikala and her nephew, the rebels were not satisfied with this alone. For, the Mannargudi family comprises of many more members, who, the detractors allege, have been exerting influence over the party for years.
Unimpressed by the efforts that the ministers have been taking, rebel leaders expressed doubts whether they would be able to keep the family at bay. This came in the wake of reports that VK Divaharan, Sasikala’s brother, was fuelling the unrest against Dhinakaran within the ruling faction.
This raised concerns among the rebel leaders that they would be straddled by one family member in place of another, prompting them to up the ante against the whole Mannargudi family. Many who spoke to Express were sceptical about the merger under the prevailing circumstances.
"Why should we go for a merger? Dhinakaran is going to be arrested by Delhi Police (in the alleged bribery case) and Sasikala is sure to lose her party position,” said a senior party hand, a Parliament member now in the OPS camp, who said there was no space for compromise with the Mannargudi clan.
The stridency has understandably rankled the family loyalists, who openly attacked not just the rebels but also the ministers who were now singing a different tune.
“The meeting held at electricity minister (P Thangamani’s) residence last night was not authorised by the party, and was held without Dhinakaran’s knowledge,” criticised P Vetrivel, who was one of the MLAs who called on Dhinakaran during the day.
Vetrivel alleged that Panneerselvam has demanded six key cabinet seats including that of the chief minister of his faction were to agree to the merger. He also charged at minister Jayakumar and Lok Sabha deputy speaker M Thambidurai for organising the meetings and addressing the press over the matter.
“Sasikala and Dhinakaran will continue in their posts,” added another loyalist Thanga Tamilselvan MLA, emerging from the meeting with Dhinakaran.
However, it should be noted that some of the staunch backers of the family, like ministers RB Udhayakumar, C Ve Shanmugam and R Vaithilingam MP were part of the meeting at Chief Minister ‘Edappadi’ Palaniswami’s residence, and echoed Jayakumar that they would stand together to protect the party.