Nemesis is finally catching up with VK Sasikala, the jailed general secretary of AIADMK who is widely seen as the villain of the piece among the dramatis personae in the Tamil Nadu political drama. The endgame is imminent for Sasikala and her family as the ruling faction of the AIADMK took a stunning decision to keep her and her nephew TTV Dinakaran away from the party. This will pave the way for working out a truce with the rebel faction, headed by former Chief Minister O Panneerselvam, and an eventual merger. Booting out the infamous ‘Mannargudi family’ has been the single point condition set by Team Pannerselvam for any rapprochement. The dramatic twist came against the backdrop of Delhi police filing an FIR against Dinakaran for allegedly trying to bribe the Election Commission officials to get back the party’s ‘two leaves’ symbol frozen by the poll panel. The noose is tightening around Dinakaran, party’s deputy general secretary, as police issued a lookout notice against him and his arrest is imminent. There has been a growing realisation among ministers and legislators of the ruling faction that the party would face an existential crisis if it fails to distance itself from Sasikala’s family whose image lay in tatters because of unbridled corruption. Chief Minister E Palaniswami and his colleagues have finally decided to bite the bullet, keep their once-revered Sasikala and her nephew out of the party and the government and form a broad-based committee to run the party.
Soon after the demise of Jayalalithaa, Team Sasikala moved in swiftly to take complete control of the party by ruthlessly crushing the rebellion. A majority of the legislators sided with her despite overwhelming opposition from the party’s rank and file. However, it did not take much time for them to do the volte-face after the central agencies mounted the heat against Sasikala’s coterie. It is an open secret that the central BJP leadership favours Pannerselvam’s camp and has been making discrete moves to find a foothold in the State using its clout with the rebel camp. The cancellation of the RK Nagar Assembly byelection following the cash-for-vote scam and the police action against Dinakaran have precipitated the matters. What started as a battle for Amma’s legacy, between her household-keeper and her conscience-keeper, has now become a struggle for survival of the party. Though both the warring factions have decided to bury the hatchet and work towards merger, the road ahead could be a bumpy one. The tussle for the Chief Minister’s throne, key portfolios and party posts could be the first hurdle. It is time the ruling party put an end to internal fight and focused its attention on governance.