CHENNAI: Beginning an unexpected, dramatic rebellion at the burial place of the late Chief Minister, J Jayalalithaa, on the sands of the serene Marina on February 8, O Panneerselvam led a vociferous bandwagon blaring two key demands.
One was to order a high-level probe by a Central agency into the ‘mysterious’ death of Jayalalithaa on December 5, 2016, following more than two months of hospitalisation. The second demand was to purge the party of the clutches of VK Sasikala and her family members.
The rebels were successful in frustrating the official faction by challenging the validity of Sasikala’s nomination to the post of interim general secretary and freezing the ‘Two Leaves’ symbol. Moreover, Panneerselvam and his army of generals succeeded in dashing TTV Dhinakaran’s MLA dreams by making the authorities concerned call off the RK Nagar by-polls.Running short of ideas and finding only a few to fund the expenses to run the breakaway outfit, AIADMK-PTA chief felt the heat.
The olive branch the Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami-led faction extended seemed to have disappeared as the talks for merger remained a non-starter months ago. The recent defection of VC Arukutty, MLA, and signs of some others following him left Panneerselvam thinking over the future.
The commands coming from Delhi and the fear of TTV Dhinakaran rocking the boat with the help of the principal opposition party, DMK, hastened the things for OPS to make a compromise, by giving an impression of hammering out the differences within his camp.
As things unfolded on Monday, OPS stands to gain very little from the rebellion and the subsequent mission he launched, to seek justice for the death of his mentor and completely expel the Sasikala family. He couldn’t even successfully bargain for more berths in the Cabinet.
The reunion appears to be nothing but a marriage of convenience for reasons better known to the leaders of both sides. “They are fully committed to power and driven by future concerns,” observes Prof Ramu Manivannan, Head of Department of Political Science and Public Administration, University of Madras.
Despite the rhetoric on removal of Sasikala from the party, it is easier said than done, he says. “Only because of the fear of backlash, they don’t want to go back to Sasikala,” he adds.
Referring to OPS getting back to the Cabinet, Ramu Manivannan feels, “If he is far more committed to values and ideals of the party, he should not have taken any position in the government.”
However, a senior leader of the erstwhile rebel faction says they could achieve their goals by forcing the official faction to order a judicial inquiry and initiating robust steps to oust Sasikala from the party.
“We deem it a victory for our cause. We are able to make them justify our demands,” he said.
Yet, the days ahead would surely be challenging as Dhinakaran is considered a potential weapon to trouble the government. “TTV Dhinakaran will not take things in a laid-down manner. He will push the government to the edge,” Manivannan forewarns.
People won’t forgive duo: Dhinakaran
TTV Dhinakaran, breaking his silence in late night tweets, said: “Not only the party cadre but also the people, would not forgive Panneerselvam and Palaniswami who had betrayed the general secretary of the party who had made them chief ministers.
Palaniswami’s hunger for power had eclipsed his senses to the extent to join hands with Panneerselvam who was responsible for freezing the Two Leaves symbol.”
“How can these betrayers can redeem the symbol ? How could Palaniswami join hands with Panneerselvam who alleged that the State government was corruption-ridden?” he added.