Since the death of AIADMK supremo J Jayalalithaa in December last year, the party headquarters situated in Chennai’s Royapettah has been witnessing dramatic events.
The already-fractured party is all set for yet another high drama as the three camps - O Panneerselvam (OPS), Edappadi Palanisamy (EPS) and now TTV Dhinakaran – remain divided.
Amid a clear lack of leadership, the infightings have only deepened the party’s problems.
On Friday, August 4, the controversial AIADMK deputy general secretary (TTV Dhinakaran) said efforts to bring together the divided factions of the party together were on. “We are working towards the merger of AIADMK factions, very soon you will hear a good news, it could be even before October 17,” he told reporters.
But TTV has also made changes in the party structure on his own, much to the chagrin of many leaders. He made the announcement that more than 60 cadres have been appointed to various party posts, saying that it was done with the consent of Sasikala. The appointees included 20 MLAs. On Saturday, however, three of the MLAs refused to accept the party posts.
The ongoing crisis in AIADMK has only exposed the lack of political acumen in the present leadership unlike their predecessors who could sail through tough times.
After MGR’s death, his wife Janaki and J Jayalalithaa fought over the party and its symbol. The party office was sealed and the symbol frozen. Both had closely watched MGR’s political career grow. While Janaki was seen as one of the power centres during MGR’s reign, Jayalalithaa managed to consolidate the cadres. So, when they both needed the support of party cadres, it was Jayalalithaa who emerged victorious.
Since then there was hardly anyone but Jayalalithaa, whom everyone else in the party followed including VK Sasikala. Sasikala and her family members, in the meanwhile, turned into the power centre of the party even though they failed to reach out to people or the cadres.
EPS and OPS had a steady growth within the party structure and plum posts in the administration. But they were hardly seen as individual achievers and were rather considered as functioning in Amma’s shadow.
While Jayalalithaa capitalised on the MGR legacy, she created a following of her own as well – something that both EPS, OPS and TTV are struggling to do.
Even though OPS took the credit of “handling” the Jallikattu crisis and was basking in the glory as a hero for some time, it took just a few months for that sheen to be lost as he could not pull all MLAs to his side during floor test.
Meanwhile, with MLAs sticking to his side and a probable support from the Modi government at the Centre, EPS has so far managed to hold on to the CM chair. His supporters claim he has been trying his best to bring together all party cadres.
“He has been travelling across the state to participate in the MGR centenary celebrations to consolidate the party cadres,” said one of his supporters.
In the meanwhile, TTV indicated that no one enjoys the support of EPS more than him since the CM was handpicked by him and aunt Sasikala. “He was chosen by us. But now it’s time he answers whether he is with us or not,” TTV recently said after the additional party office-bearers that included 20 MLAs .
Even though the fight to control the party continues, many within the party believe the three - OPS, TTV and EPS - are in no mood to pull the government down.
“We know that despite the differences if the government falls, mid-term elections are a problem. There are chances the DMK will sweep the polls. So why lose power,” quipped an AIADMK MLA.
One can only imagine the anger and frustration of Sasikala, who is watching the drama from behind the bars.
It is believed there was a time when both EPS and OPS would wait for hours in Poes Garden just to meet Chinnamma who would carry their messages to Jayalalithaa.
“They used to give equal respect to her, and there was a sense of fear,” said a Poes Garden insider.
Perhaps it’s true fear cannot instil loyalty or love. At the end of the day, it’s all about money and power.