June 30, 2017
But an unruffled chief minister Edapaddi Palanisami ignores the Mannargudi family and keeps it away from MGR centenary celebrations, brooks no interference in party, government affairs.
Chennai: Slowly but surely, the isolation of AIADMK general secretary VK Sasikala and her nephew TTV Dhinakaran is increasingly becoming clearer to the rank and file. If there were any doubts, given the noise Dhinakaran and his handful of supporters were making and also with highly publicised visits to Bengaluru jail to meet up Sasikala, chief minister Edapaddi Palanisami dismissed them through his studied indifference to the Mannargudi family.
He himself has not met or paid obeisance to the TTV Dhinakaran or Sasikala, who chose him to fill in for her in place of O Panneerselvam who revolted against her. But Edapadi Palanisami quietly consolidated his position as head of the government, with most of the MLAs falling firmly behind him also due to the firm signals from Delhi.
It may be recalled that Prime Minister Narendra Modi called and spoke to Edapaddi to request support for the NDA presidential candidate. Besides, the presidential candidate, Ram Nath Kovind, expected in Chennai tomorrow, is slated to call on chief minister and former chief minister O Panneerselvam, who leads a breakaway group of the AIADMK.
The signal from Delhi with this presidential campaign too is not lost on the AIADMK MLAs. Said a senior MLA close to the ruling dispensation, “there are handful of MLAs who owe their allegiance to Dhinakaran and they too will eventually fall in line and stand with the chief minister if such a need arises.”
A stronger message from closer home to the party MLAs came from the chief minister Edapaddi Palanisami who completely ignored TTV Dhinakaran and excluded him from the MGR centenary celebrations being held in Madurai. The chief minister was welcomed with traditional drum beating and singing of songs by folk artists as he arrived for formal launch of celebrations. All the 31 ministers were in attendance at the inaugural function.
But it does not mean that the EPS can walk away claiming legacy of MGR. Contesting this hotly, the OPS faction too held MGR centenary celebrations in a few districts.
The official celebrations will continue till January 2018 and culminate in a public meeting where prime minister Narendra Modi is expected to be the chief guest. EPS has already distanced himself from the Dhinakaran and Sasikala, as was announced by finance minister D Jayakumar a few weeks ago.
But this is not being taken lying down by TTV Dhinakaran’s supporters who are demanding that their bosses be rehabilitated and as a first – their portraits be put up at party headquarters. Sasikala banners were removed in April as per a demand of the OPS camp as a precondition for merger talks. TTV Dhinakaran’s supporters, 25 MLAs including three ministers had met the chief minster and demanded a role for their boss in running party affairs.