Tamil politics

Is pressure from BJP pushing AIADMK factions to merge?

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Palaniswamy on Thursday led his camp to declare that TTV Dinakaran was not the deputy general secretary of the party.

The battle for control of the ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam in Tamil Nadu saw a new twist on Thursday morning after office bearers led by Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswamy declared that TTV Dinakaran, the nephew of former Chief Minister Jayalalithaa’s aide VK Sasikala, was not the deputy general secretary of the Palaniswamy faction of the party.

The move is seen as a step forward towards Palaniswamy burying the hatchet with the faction led by former Chief Minister O Panneerselvam, who rebelled against Sasikala in February claiming that he was forced to resign from the post of chief minister. The party has been in disarray since Jayalalithaa died, with various factions – led respectively by Sasikala and Dinkaran, Paneerselvam and, later, Palaniswamy – jostling for control. While Palaniswamy heads the AIADMK-Amma, Panneerselvam heads the AIADMK-Puratchi Thalaivi Amma.

Speaking to reporters later on Thursday, Dinakaran rejected Palaniswamy’s resolution that he is not the party’s deputy general secretary.

The decision to sideline Dinakaran completely came after a night of hectic discussions in the Palaniswamy camp. Officials in the faction said the immediate reason for Thursday’s statement was Dinakaran’s functioning over the last two weeks. He had appointed new office bearers last week, claiming to be the deputy general secretary acting on the orders of Sasikala, who he says is the general secretary of the AIADMK.

The developments also happened at a time when AIADMK circles are rife with speculation that the Bharatiya Janata Party was putting pressure on the different groups to merge and join the National Democratic Alliance that is ruling the Centre.

A Tamil Nadu BJP official told Scroll.in that the two factions had been told that the AIADMK could join the Centre only if it came together as one. The BJP is also not happy with the way Panneerselvam has lost steam over the last two months and feels that he has squandered a golden opportunity to emerge as the undisputed leader of the party.

Churning continues

Officials in Palaniswamy’s camp admitted that Dinakaran’s functioning over the last few weeks showed new confidence. This stemmed from the fact that he had the full support of at least eight MLAs, who could pull the plug on the government at any point. In fact, Dinakaran had claimed in the past that 30 MLAs are on his side, though this was clearly an exaggerated figure.

“He believes no action would be taken against him because of this threat,” a senior AIADMK (Amma) leader said.

In February, Palaniswamy won a confidence vote in the Assembly with the support of 122 MLAs. The party currently needs 117 legislators to stay in power. The total strength of the House is now 233, with the Dr Radhakrishnan Nagar seat remaining vacant since the death of Jayalalithaa on December 5.

If Dinakaran’s claim of having the support of at least eight MLAs is true, he has the potential to bring the government down. For Palaniswamy, it was important to get Panneerselvam on board again to bridge the numbers gap. The Panneerselvam faction currently has the backing of 10 MLAs, down from 12 in February after two legislators moved back to the Palaniswamy camp.

In the Dinakaran camp, the suspicion now is that the BJP has increased pressure on the two factions to merge quickly.

“They think if EPS [Palaniswamy] and OPS [Panneerselvam] join hands, every one here [Dinakaran camp] will go back to them. But I can tell you that will not happen,” a Dinakaran loyalist said.

The reasoning behind the notion that Dinakaran would return to the party after a merger was that the moment Panneerselvam and Palaniswamy come together, the dispute before the Election Commission on who should get the AIADMK’s “Two leaves” symbol will conclude. Once the symbol, which was suspended after the party split, comes back to the party, Dinakaran will have no basis to continue his resistance.

However, the response to Thursday’s statement from the chief minister has been lukewarm in the Panneerselvam camp. Former minister KP Munusamy said two central demands of the faction are yet to be met. “We want Sasikala removed from the party and a probe ordered into the death of our leader Jayalalithaa,” he reiterated.

Meanwhile, both Panneerselvam and Palaniswamy are expected to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi on August 11, when they arrive to take part in the swearing-in of Venkaiah Naidu as vice-president.

BJP officials in Tamil Nadu said a senior party leader, who had come in from the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh in 2015, had been in touch with both camps. The party also wants the AIADMK government to continue, since an election in Tamil Nadu now will be to the advantage of the Opposition Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam. “We do not want the DMK to take advantage of this situation,” a leader said, requesting anonymity.

We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

Watch Ruchir's journey: A story that captures the impact of accessible technology

Accessible technology has the potential to change lives.

“Technology can be a great leveller”, affirms Ruchir Falodia, Social Media Manager, TATA CLiQ. Out of the many qualities that define Ruchir as a person, one that stands out is that he is an autodidact – a self-taught coder and lover of technology.

Ruchir’s story is one that humanises technology - it has always played the role of a supportive friend who would look beyond his visual impairment. A top ranker through school and college, Ruchir would scan course books and convert them to a format which could be read out to him (in the absence of e-books for school). He also developed a lot of his work ethos on the philosophy of Open Source software, having contributed to various open source projects. The access provided by Open Source, where users could take a source code, modify it and distribute their own versions of the program, attracted him because of the even footing it gave everyone.

That is why I like being in programming. Nobody cares if you are in a wheelchair. Whatever be your physical disability, you are equal with every other developer. If your code works, good. If it doesn’t, you’ll be told so.

— Ruchir.

Motivated by the objectivity that technology provided, Ruchir made it his career. Despite having earned degree in computer engineering and an MBA, friends and family feared his visual impairment would prove difficult to overcome in a work setting. But Ruchir, who doesn’t like quotas or the ‘special’ tag he is often labelled with, used technology to prove that differently abled persons can work on an equal footing.

As he delved deeper into the tech space, Ruchir realised that he sought to explore the human side of technology. A fan of Agatha Christie and other crime novels, he wanted to express himself through storytelling and steered his career towards branding and marketing – which he sees as another way to tell stories.

Ruchir, then, migrated to Mumbai for the next phase in his career. It was in the Maximum City that his belief in technology being the great leveller was reinforced. “The city’s infrastructure is a challenging one, Uber helped me navigate the city” says Ruchir. By using the VoiceOver features, Ruchir could call an Uber wherever he was and move around easily. He reached out to Uber to see if together they could spread the message of accessible technology. This partnership resulted in a video that captures the essence of Ruchir’s story: The World in Voices.

Play

It was important for Ruchir to get rid of the sympathetic lens through which others saw him. His story serves as a message of reassurance to other differently abled persons and abolishes some of the fears, doubts and prejudices present in families, friends, employers or colleagues.

To know more about Ruchir’s journey, see here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Uber and not by the Scroll editorial team.