By Ashima Makhija
On 17 August 2017, the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, announced that an inquiry commission headed by a retired High Court judge would be constituted to probe the death of former Chief Minister Jayalalithaa who died in December last year. Chief Minister Palaniswami also said that ‘Veda Nilayam’, the erstwhile residence of Jayalalithaa in Poes Garden, would be converted into a public memorial, to commemorate Amma, the leader who “sacrificed her life for Tamil Nadu and toiled day and night for the state’s growth and welfare”.
The sudden announcements are essentially seen as a move to put pressure on the AIADMK (Puratchi Thalaivi Amma) to come forward for negotiating a quick merger with the ruling AIADMK (Amma) and to checkmate ousted deputy general secretary, T.T.V. Dhinakaran, who is in a combative mood.
The disaster management strategy
The last nine months have been a dishevelled and catastrophic roller-coaster ride for the AIADMK. Since the demise of the party supremo Jayalalithaa, the party has split into three factions and none of them commands any credibility or support. The ineffective opposition, eclipsed by the resignation of M. Karunanidhi and unscrupulous leaders, has driven the ‘Hero Politics of TN’ to an abrupt dead-end.
Just as the bipolar polity of Tamil Nadu was gaping at a widening leadership vacuum, the current CM, Edappadi Palaniswamy and former chief minister O. Panneerselvam, decided to merge together two factions of Amma’s AIADMK.
The Panneerselvam faction (EPS) had laid down two conditions for a merger; these include an inquiry into Jayalalithaa’s death (varying from a CBI probe to a judicial probe) and the expulsion of Sasikala and her family from the AIADMK. EPS’ decision to nullify the appointment of Mr Dhinakaran, is another step closer to a reunion.
While Mr Panneerselvam did not immediately react to the announcements, his follower and former Minister Ma Foi K. Pandiarajan, tweeted “Victory for #OPS dharma yuddham! All 3 key demands by OPS met decisively! Time to transparently negotiate for a merger! #UnitedAdmk”.
The mammoth challenges facing the merger
While some leaders have openly and joyously hailed an AIADMK merger, others are taking a more critical and cautious stance. Some in the divided OPS camp, including party praesidium chairman E. Madhusudhanan and Former Minister K.P. Munusamy, said a CBI inquiry, instead of a commission inquiry was important.
Power sharing is another source of potential disagreement. Most expect Palaniswami to continue as the Chief Minister with Panneerselvam taking charge as general secretary of the party and even assuming the role of deputy CM.
However, standing in the way of the proposed merger of the two factions is the ousted T.T.V. Dinakaran, the nephew of V.K. Sasikala who organised a massive rally in Melur village near Madurai. Dinakaran’s rally was attended by 23 MLAs and 4 MPs of the ruling party and has the potential to spoil the merger of the two factions. There are reports that DMK could try to use these disgruntled MLAs to bring down the government through a no-confidence motion.
The salient BJP feature
While the obvious beneficiaries of this merger would be the two factions of AIADMK, who will be able to consolidate some support after a few preposterous months, another crucial beneficiary of this proposed merger would be the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
The BJP has always seen an opportunity in the AIADMK bitter internal battle and subdued activities of former chief minister M. Karunanidhi’s DMK to capture power in a state that is seen as the party’s final frontier. An AIADMK, led by the powerful duo of EPS and OPS and opposed to Sasikala, would be the ideal outfit for BJP to align its campaign with. Indeed, it is no shocker that these fast-paced movements are preceding the visit of BJP’s Chanakya, Amit Shah.
The politics of Tamil Nadu has gone into an overdrive mode since these announcements by the CM. If this merger takes place, then BJP will get an excellent opportunity to test the southern intensity of the saffron wave and AIADMK will get a chance of rebuilding Amma’s glorious party.
Featured Image Source: Flickr
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