More than four months after the demise of former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, the state of affairs within the ruling AIADMK continues to be in a flux.
On Monday, the Delhi police filed an FIR against AIADMK (Sasikala) Deputy General Secretary TTV Dhinakaran for attempting to bribe officials of the Election Commission in order to be allotted the two-leaves symbol.
For Sasikala and co, the timing of the FIR could not have come at a more inopportune time.
A week after Income Tax officials raided Health Minister C Vijayabaskar, Dhinakaran is facing pressure from senior leaders in the party to not only drop the minister but to also step down as Deputy General Secretary himself. With Monday’s FIR coming close on the heels of the I-T raids, Dhinakaran’s fate in the party hangs in the balance.
These are five scenarios that are likely to play out following the latest developments:
1. TTV Dhinakaran’s Arrest
The Delhi police is expected to issue a summons to Dhinakaran for questioning. However, with the Deputy General Secretary booked under Section 120 b of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) (criminal conspiracy) and Section 8 of the Prevention of Corruption Act (PCA) (taking gratification, in order, by corrupt or illegal means to influence public servants), his arrest may be imminent. Speculation is also rife that Dhinakaran may move court for anticipatory bail in the case.
2. Merger of AIADMK if Sasikala and Dhinakaran Step Down
Arrest or no arrest, the pressure on Dhinakaran to step down is likely to increase following Monday’s FIR. Last Friday, senior leaders including Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami had reportedly urged Dhinakaran to resign from the post of deputy general secretary, with many observing that the Centre had thrown hurdle after hurdle following Sasikala and family taking over the reins of the party.
Moreover, the freezing of the two-leaves symbol ahead of the RK Nagar by-elections had caused great anguish not just to the party functionaries but also to veteran leaders in the AIADMK.
In the wake of the latest troubles, a merger of the two warring factions of the AIADMK is a likely scenario, especially in the interest of “saving the party”.
However, a merger is unlikely to unfold without Sasikala and TTV Dhinakaran stepping down from their party posts. While Team OPS has welcomed those in the ruling camp to join their faction, they have also challenged Sasikala’s nomination as general secretary with the Election Commission.
With TTV dashing off to Parappana Agrahara jail in Bengaluru, what his next move will be is largely dependent on the advice his aunt Sasikala gives.
3. TTV Walks out With His MLAs
If senior leaders insist on Dhinakaran stepping down from the party post and becoming a back-seat driver once again, he may walk out with his MLAs. There is even talk that his MLAs will support the DMK from outside.
4. Fall of the EPS Government
What is certain is that the Mannargudi family is unlikely to give up without a fight. If Dhinakaran is forced out of his party post, it is highly likely that he can bring down the ruling Edappadi Palaniswami government.
The Sasikala faction commands the loyalty of at least 35 to 40 MLAs. With the EPS government clinging to power on a razor-thin majority, Dhinakaran requires only a handful of legislators to rock the boat.
The question is, is the ruling party willing to risk snap polls and face the electorate without the might of Jayalalithaa behind them?
5. OPS Pushes for Two-Leaves Symbol
With Dhinakaran facing the heat over allegations of attempting to bribe EC officials for the two-leaves symbol, his rival O Panneerselvam (OPS) is likely to add more pressure by pushing the Commission for the frozen AIADMK symbol.
On Monday, Rajya Sabha MP Maitreyan filed a petition with the EC urging it to reject Sasikala’s appointment as general secretary.
Team OPS has reportedly filed the latest petition together with the affidavit of 15,000 AIADMK members supporting them.
With rumours of leaders in the ruling faction switching camps, if OPS can prove to the EC that he has the numbers to back his faction, could the two-leaves symbol be back with the AIADMK in the future?
(This story was first published in The News Minute)