AIADMK merger soon? Palaniswami attacks Dinakaran, goes soft on Sasi
The AIADMK (Amma) faction headed by Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami on Thursday derecognised TTV Dinakaran as deputy general secretary, to clear the decks for a merger with the rival Puratchi Thalaivi faction headed by O Panneerselvam.
A high-level meeting of this group, presided over by Palaniswami, declared Dinakaran's appointment as deputy general secretary by his aunt and general secretary VK Sasikala 'illegal'. This is because he had been expelled from the party in 2011 by late Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, and had thus not been a member of the party for five consecutive years, as mandated.
The group said that consequently, Dinakaran had no power to appoint any office-bearer. Recently, Dinakaran had rewarded 20 MLAs with party posts for supporting the government.
Palaniswami group's resolution
The factions have been facing pressure to merge from the ruling BJP in New Delhi. And because Dinakaran poses a more present and potent threat that Sasikala, who is serving a jail term in Bengaluru in a disproportionate assets case, the Palaniswami group went after him.
It rejected the appointments made by Dinakaran, stating they are invalid since his own position is questionable. Dinakaran had been appointed joint general secretary by Sasikala, his aunt.
The meeting was attended by 27 out of the 36 office-bearers appointed by Jayalalithaa when she was general secretary of the unified party. Of the other nine, four Palaniswami supporters – including Lok Sabha Deputy Speaker M Thambidurai – are in Delhi attending Parliament, while the other five are with the Panneerselvam faction.
A resolution passed at the meeting pointed out that the Election Commission, which has frozen the AIADMK's 'two leaves' symbol in the wake of the split, refused to allow Dinakaran to implead himself in the case, as his name was in the list of office-bearers expelled by Jayalalithaa.
But on the other hand, the members did not even openly refer to Sasikala or her imprisonment, saying she could not function as general secretary due to an 'extraordinary situation'. The resolution also indirectly referred to Panneerselvam's petition before the Election Commission that she was not qualified to be general secretary – because she was also not a member of the party for five successive years on the date she was elected to the post.
Paneerselvam stands firm
Soon after this meeting, Panneerselvam consulted his followers. One of them said their faction was firm that a merger could only take place if Sasikala and her clan were expelled from the party.
Both Palaniswami and Panneerselvam are travelling to attend the swearing-in ceremony of M Venkaiah Naidu as the country's Vice-President on Friday. During their stay in the capital, the two leaders are expected to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is keen that the two should come together, so that they can reclaim the frozen 'two leaves' symbol.