TIRUNELVELI/CHENNAI: Hours after general secretary VK Sasikala chose her nephew TTV Dinakaran as deputy general secretary of AIADMK, VR Karuppasamy Pandian, a strongman from the south, quit the party post, raising allegations of nepotism against the leadership.
Pandian was made an organising secretary only on February 3 after returning to his "alma mater" last July from the DMK.
Addressing the media at Tirunelveli on Wednesday, Pandian backed rebel Chief Minister O Panneerselvam as the best person to lead the party, but said he has not yet decided about joining his faction.
He questioned the legitimacy of Dinakaran’s appointment when Sasikala election as interim general secretary itself is a matter pending before the Election Commission of India .
A three-time MLA and a deputy general secretary over two decades ago, Pandian added that posts should be awarded based on work and dedication to the party. “Dinakaran used to serve tea when we (deputy general secretaries) used to discuss the party affairs in Chennai, while MGR was undergoing treatment in the US," he alleged.
The party formed by MG Ramachandran is now lacking direction and has left lakhs of cadres stranded and helpless, he said. “AIADMK has fallen into the hands of one family. Sasikala and family were once expelled from party for being disloyal to late leader Jayalalithaa. Only Sasikala was allowed back after tendering an apology. But now, Dinakaran and Venkatesh have been re-inducted into the party. Unable to withstand these developments, I am resigning my organising secretary post,” Pandian said.
However, even as he opined that Panneerselvam looked best suited to lead the party right now, he made it clear that he was not going to join those flocking to the rebel camp. “Only if I receive self-respect and a position that has the powers to ensure the welfare of the people in the southern districts will I go with a party. Till now, OPS camp has not sought my support,” he said.
Pandian also supported Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao’s decision not to invite Sasikala immediately, pointing out that any hasty move would have brought disrepute to the State now that the Supreme Court has convicted her in the disproportionate assets case.
Pandian entered politics at a very young age when MGR formed the AIADMK in 1972. In his mid-20s, he won from Alangulam Assembly constituency in 1977. After repeating the victory in 1980, this time in the Palayamkottai seat, he was made the district secretary of undivided Tirunelveli (then including Thoothukudi district as well). He soon emerged powerful and rose to be the deputy general secretary in 1996.
After MGR’s death in 1987, he strongly backed Jayalalithaa as the next general secretary. The manner in which he had organised the AIADMK's silver jubilee conference in Tirunelveli in 1998 added credence to his image as a good organiser.
But Pandian had his ups and downs. He was expelled from AIADMK twice in 1990 and 1999. The second time, Pandian crossed over to the DMK in 2000 and continued there till 2015. He was then suspended from the DMK in May 2015 for anti-party activities, and ahead of Assembly elections last year, Pandian vowed to work for the victory of the AIADMK. He was finally granted readmission into the AIADMK in the last week of July.