Even as the two factions of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam are looking at an imminent merger, VK Sasikala’s nephew and sidelined leader TTV Dinakaran on Monday was joined by 20 party MLAs and six MPs at a rally in Melur village in Tamil Nadu’s Madurai district, The Hindu reported. Apart from these party leaders, more than 20,000 cadre from various districts assembled at the rally in a major show of strength for Dinakaran.

On August 10, the Edappadi Palaniswami camp of the AIADMK had adopted a resolution to formally reject Dinakaran’s appointment as the party’s deputy general secretary. The step was taken after the O Panneerselvam faction of the AIADMK had demanded that Dinakaran and party general secretary VK Sasikala be removed from the outfit.

Dinakaran’s rally was organised to celebrate the birth centenary of AIADMK founder MG Ramachandran. “With 30 ministers, you cannot run a government,” Dinakaran said at the rally, according to Hindustan Times. “Don’t forget that it is cadres and supporters that help you win elections, and form the government. If the MLAs were given the freedom of choice, many more would have joined the rally.”

He further called VK Sasikala a “sacrifice queen”. He said she could have taken over as the chief minister of Tamil Nadu the day former CM J Jayalalithaa had died. “She didn’t make an attempt to make me or any of our family members the chief minister,” he added. Alluding to CM Palaniswami, he said, “You were made the chief minister by Sasikala, don’t you forget that.”

Dinakaran, however, did not take on the Bharatiya Janata Party which is playing an important role in the merger between the two warring factions.

Former AIADMK chief J Jayalalithaa had expelled Dinakaran from the party in 2011. When he was appointed the deputy general secretary, he had not completed the requisite five years in the party. The AIADMK has also asked its workers to reject any appointments Dinakaran made during his time as deputy general secretary.