November 23, 2017
Image credit : Illustrative Image
In a major setback to Sasikala led Mannargudi clan, the Election Commission declares EPS-OPS as the real AIADMK and grants it the two-leaves symbol
Chennai: With the Thursday ruling of Election Commission granting two leaves symbol to EPS-OPS led AIADMK, virtually declaring it as the official AIADMK, the Mannargudi clan’s clout in Tamil Nadu politics weakened even more.
Already on the wrong side of the ruling BJP in Central government, the AIADMK faction led by jailed and sidelined AIADMK leader VK Sasikala and run by proxy by her nephew TTV Dinakaran, is bound to challenge the decision but the EC decision does not leave anyone in doubt as to who is the boss in Tamil Nadu and AIADMK.
The first litmus test of who is more acceptable to the people, the official EPS-OPS camp or the rebel Sasikala camp, will be the RK Nagar assembly bye-poll that the Madras High Court had decreed must be held before December 31 where the rebel camp will field its own candidate. However, given the spate of corruption cases and IT raids on Sasikala, her clan, business associates and friends has softened the group up considerably.
But, Dinakaran has taken a brave stance, often ridiculing the EPS-OPS camp as also the BJP in the hope that the cadres and people will support Chinnamma. But, across Tamil Nadu, shorn of power, the rebel camp is slowly discovering that the ground has shifted from under its feet.
“If anything, a division within the AIADMK and its voters will only help the DMK, which is waiting for an opportunity to dislodge the AIADMK from power,” said a political analyst.
“We have got the symbol only now. We will decide on the candidate for R.K.Nagar assembly constituency later after discussing with party leaders,” chief minister Edapaddi Palaniswami told reporters in Chennai.
“The Election Commission has given a just decision. We are happy and party’s 1.5 crore members will be happy. We have majority of office bearers, legislators and Members of Parliament,” Chief Minister Palaniswami said.
AIADMK leaders said they were waiting for the full order of the Election Commission.
The rebel camp, which had been hoping for a favourable verdict, is planning to challenge the decision.
But for sure, the EC decision is a major setback for Sasikala, the head of the Mannargudi clan who is now serving a four-year jail sentence in Bengaluru in a corruption case, as her carefully crafted political empire collapsed with her sentencing. Her own nominee as chief minister, E Palaniswami replacing O Panneerselvam, eventually ditched her and joined OPS in cementing his own position.
Since then, Dinakaran, has been leading a revolt against the EPS-OPS combine when the income tax authorities and enforcement directorate struck against the Mannargudi clan and its business interests.
For Sasikala and her clan, it is raining woes, ever since OPS revolted against her after Jayalalithaa’s death when the head of the Mannargudi clan was about to replace him with her own nominee, EPS. It was February this year when OPS sat on a 45 minute meditation in front of Amma’s memorial at Marina beach, launching his revolt and became immensely popular across the state.
Soon, the judgment in DA case came in February and since then Sasikala’s hold over party and government began to weaken.
Even chief minister Palanisami began shifting his position and eventually dumped her, preferring to play ball with the centre and prime minister Narendra Modi.
After the EPS and OPS camps merged, they ousted her from the party positions and claimed to be the real AIADMK and staked claim to the two leaves symbol.
The EC froze the symbol and conducted hearings on the case, in which it delivered its verdict on Thursday.