- Interactions with the top leadership of both AIADMK factions give off strong negative vibes.
- It appears that the Sasikala AIADMK faction is only splintering further over mutual suspicions
- While a merger still seems distant, a high-spirited blame game is in full swing
The after effects of Prime Minister Narendra Modi discussing Tamil Nadu politics, especially the AIADMK's internal conflicts between the two factions headed by Sasikala and O Pannerselvam, are now visible amongst the top leadership of the AIADMK.
As both Sasikala and TTV Dinakaran are in prison, there is no collective or united leadership in the Edapati Palanisamy camp.
However, when this correspondent inquired with both factions of the AIADMK, specific interactions with the top leadership of both factions gave off murky feelings and a strong negative vibe. This is not conducive for the peace talks between the two camps.
It appears that the Sasikala AIADMK faction is only splintering further, now that both Sasikala and TTV Dinakaran are in prison and there is no united leadership. Within the senior ministers of the Palanaisamy Council of Ministers, there are three or four factions, which each suspicious of the other. One wonders where this will lead if Dinakaran is not released at the earliest.
The signs of the fracture are everywhere. On Wednesday, when CM Palanisamy was camping in New Delhi, three top ministers always surrounded Palanisamy, while the 'Thambidurai faction' of loyalists have been keeping a total distance.
Sasikala loyalists, between eight to ten ministers, have intentionally kept away from the Palanisamy meeting and also avoided visiting New Delhi. Usually, the entire cabinet accompanied the CM to Delhi. Yesterday only four were seen in public.
Sources reported that the factions were even wary of speaking to each other, fearing that the spoken words would be leaked to some other faction. Such were the murmurings and whispers in the corridors of the Tamil Nadu Guest House in Chanakyapuri, New Delhi.
Insiders in the Sasikala AIADMK faction clearly hint that the first casualty of the new groupism is Deputy Speaker of Lok Sabha Thambidurai. Palanisamy set up his relative as the interpreter for the meeting with the PM, keeping Thambidurai out.
Blame game in full swing:
Keeping aside the inter-faction worries, there is no love lost between the two factions either. Both sides have appointed peace committees, but there has been no headway in the merger talks. But a high-spirited blame game for the failure has been going on strongly.
The O Pannerselvam faction insists that Sasikala should first resign and party official organs - Namadhu MGR and Jaya TV - should not be controlled by TTV Dinakaran. The Sasikala faction is not ready to accept this condition.
As for individual blame, the OPS faction named Thalavai Sundaram, the special representative of the Tamil Nadu Government in Delhi and a staunch Sasikala loyalist, and Thambidurai as the stumbling blocks for the merger. The Sasikala faction blames it on a few senior leaders of the OPS camp like KC Palanisamy and Dr Maitreyan.
Whatever said and done, until the Election Commission commences the arguments for the 'two leaves' symbol, there will be no clarity - according to observers of the two factions. Interestingly, the AIADMK was told by the BJP that the two factions should wait till some changes take place in the Election Commission, say by July when CEC Zaidi demits office.
But either way, there is no urgent need to settle the issue as Tamil Nadu is not due to have any major elections any time soon. As for the upcoming Panchayat polls, the symbols will be the same as allotted to the two factions of the AIADMK - 'Hat' for Sasikala camp and 'two lamp electric post' for O Pannerselvam group.
Meanwhile, the longer the merger delays, the more confused the two crore strong AIADMK cadre becomes. At the booth-level, workers are dismayed with the warring factions of EPS and OPS. The morale of the cadre is now at stake, thanks to the relentless negative publicity in print and television.
No defections from both camps to DMK is the only positive:
One good part is that none of the AIADMK leaders from both camps has crossed over to the DMK or the Congress after the demise of Jayalalithaa. This a story in itself. Why do the AIADMK leaders prefer merger over defections to the DMK? Sources say the AIADMK considers the poor health of Karunanidhi and ineffective leadership of MK Stalin as deterrents to defection. Both factions clearly understand the public's sentiment for Jayalalitha.
Last Updated 31, Mar 2018, 6:32 PM IST