CHENNAI: In the aftermath of its recent electoral debacle, the 14-month-old AMMK, a splinter of the AIADMK, has started witnessing a ‘reverse migration’ of functionaries to the ruling party over the past few days. On Monday, several key functionaries of the AMMK in Tirunelveli, Tiruvannamalai and Dharmapuri districts made a home-coming in the presence of Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami and deputy CM O Panneerselvam.
The returning members included AMMK’s Tirunelveli urban north district secretary Popular V Muthiah, former MLA and Peravai joint secretary S Michael Rayappan and Tiruvannamalai south district secretary R Balasubramanian. AMMK general secretary and RK Nagar MLA TTV Dhinakaran, however, still has some senior functionaries, such as former minister P Palaniappan, former MLAs Thanga Thamizhselvan and P Vetrivel, on his side.
While the AMMK was expected to eat into the AIADMK vote share in the Lok Sabha elections and bypolls to 22 Assembly seats, it polled only a 5.25 per cent of votes in the parliamentary polls and did not win a single seat. While the vote share it garnered was respectable for a new party, the performance proved the AMMK was hardly the force it was touted to be. The results, thus, were a major disappointment for the party and its workers, some of whom were baffled as Dhinakaran was a major crowd-puller on the campaign trail. Dhinakaran was even accused of wasting the political future of 18 MLAs, including Thamizhselvan, who had defected to his side and had been disqualified necessitating bypolls to their seats.
Spotting an opportunity, just hours after the LS results were announced, Panneerselvam and Palaniswami had made another appeal, calling for the return of those who had ‘drifted away’ from the AIADMK due to the illusion created by some ‘selfish’ persons. Within days, their effort bore fruit as AMMK functionaries began to return.
However, Dhinakaran loyalist P Vetrivel claimed that the departure of the functionaries was not a setback to the AMMK. “I would have only been surprised if such migration had not been there. All political leaders have faced a similar situation in the past, including tall leaders such as M Karunanidhi and J Jayalalithaa. Desertions by individuals will not affect the AMMK at all. Indeed, we are preparing to face the forthcoming elections to the Nanguneri Assembly constituency and the Vellore parliamentary constituency,” he told Express.
Meanwhile, Dhinakaran continues to claim he has ‘sleeper cells’ within the ruling party who will reveal themselves when a no-confidence motion comes up against the government. How far this is true will be seen if the DMK insists on taking up the no-confidence motion against the Speaker when the Assembly meets in a couple of weeks.