Millennium Post

Merging factions

Films down south have always been known for their larger than life action. Politics, too, follow suit. Embellished with magnanimous leaders, massive scandals and now mind-boggling mergers—the South never disappoints—not in its movies, neither in its politics. The departure of a great leader is always followed by ripples that can be traced for miles—this has been true for the legacy of Hitler, Mao, Guevera, and even of Jayalalithaa. Though it has been almost a year since her hospitalisation and exit from the public world of politics, the vacuum of her absence is felt strong as the AIADMK struggles to defeat its own internal deficiencies. After months of conflicts and conjectures, E Palaniswami (EPS) and O Panneerselvam (OPS), the two factions of the AIADMK have finally merged, much to the chagrin of the third fragment led by imprisoned General Secretary Sasikala's nephew, TTV Dhinakaran.

In the presence of Governor, CH Vidyasagar Rao, OPS took oath as Deputy Chief Minister and took the finance portfolio, one he had also held charge of under Jayalalithaa. However, as OPS came forward with his 11 MLAs, TTV Dhinakaran along with his 19 MLAs expressed deep regret towards the move made by EPS, stating that they had lost hope in their leader who had been given the Chair by Sasikala. The OPS camp putting forth their demands of a merged had said that they wanted an immediate ouster of Sasikala from the party along with her entire family, primarily hinting at Dhinakaran. However, Sasikala being an appointee chosen by the general council of the party cannot be ousted until resolved by the same council. In a recent show of strength at Melur, Dhinakaran had attracted a crowd of over 25000 AIADMK cadres, along with 19 MLAs, whose exit wouldn't spell well for EPS or the AIADMK. The Opposition with the DMK and Congress have a combined total of 98 MLAs falling way short of the majority mark of 117. However, if the 20 MLA's including Dhinakaran decide to switch sides, a cloud of misfortune could swing in over AIADMK's fortune. Dhinakaran and his gang are scheduled to meet the Governor to express their regret regarding the move taken forth by EPS. In a series of tweets, Dhinakaran hit out at the EPS-OPS camp stating "What happened was not a merger. It was a business deal. The cadre will never accept their move to remove the General Secretary. They betrayed the General Secretary who made Edappadi Palaniswami the Chief Minister."

With a petition to the Governor where the MLAs have withdrawn their support, it would be interesting to see if the Governor calls for a floor test. With internal turmoil still brewing strong in the AIADMK, the Opposition led by DMK has jumped to the occasion by pulling off a strong hate campaign to further malign the party that is clearly missing their legendary leader Jaya who had ably held all strings together. "In the wake of 22 MLAs withdrawing support for CM, we demand a no-confidence motion," M K Stalin said aggressively. However, while DMK will look to capitalise on the situation, the chances of Dhinakaran completely flipping on his back are still slim. There are higher chances that he will look to reach an understanding with the EPS-OPS camp to try and cement a ground for himself and his Aunt who for now sits in a prison in Bengaluru, wrapped in a case of disproportionate assets.

Rumours mills are strong with the idea that the merger between the fragmenting groups has been instrumented by the BJP which was weary of the AIADMK split providing an onus to the DMK-Congress combine down south. Amit Shah and Narendra Modi have been known to hold meetings with both EPS and OPS over the last few months, both of whom were even invited to the swearing in ceremony of M Venkaiah Naidu as he took oath as India's Vice President. The south has so far been a strong hold of regional parties who have had their own legacy of politics and political leaders. They have not known to succumb or even be attracted to the Chairs positioned in the North which invariable rule the rest of the country. Leaders in the south had made a nation in their own states where their position was unparalleled in front of others; they had been unblemished by the power play of the rest of the country. Now, however, the picture is changing. With Jayalalithaa's demise, an irreplaceable vacuum was created in the glorious south, an emptiness which hasn't yet found a desirable occupant. This vacuum is attracting the buzzes of the North, who being masterminds in their own right will leave no stone unturned to capitalise on all opportunities that would spell well for their political gains. The inconspicuous inroads the BJP is making in Tamil Nadu further exemplifies that this State isn't like any other. It is a tougher nut to crack than Nitish's Bihar where blinding hunger found its ideal match in the smell of freshly baked cake.

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