As the standoff between ruling AIADMK factions continue, The Indian Express look at key issues and possible developments in this political crisis. Either way, the AIADMK government, which was re-elected to power in May 2016, is headed for rough times. TTV Dinakaran is meeting Sasikala today. O Panneerselvam is also meeting his leaders to take a final call on merger. In this context, Six points explain where exactly the state politics stands right now.
Why there are hurried decisions and move for a merger now?
As told by senior party leaders of the AIADMK and the Opposition, the BJP-led Centre, since February, has been playing a key role in creating a political situation in Tamil Nadu to ‘evict’ the entire Sasikala family from state politics and ‘de-link’ them fully from late Jayalalithaa’s party and its machinery.
And what makes the ‘emergency’ situation now is reportedly an attempt by both Edappadi K Palaniswami faction and O Panneerselvam faction to complete the merger process before August 22, the date scheduled for the visit of BJP president Amit Shah in Tamil Nadu.
Will DMK step in and move a no-confidence motion?
In a country that has seen plenty of examples of how an elected government is sabotaged, the DMK continues to project a fair image until today. Except for a statement of its leader M K Stalin that they will move a no-confidence motion if required, the DMK is yet to make any political move to topple the government despite being a powerful opposition with 89 MLAs.
If the Sasikala faction manages to expand its base in the coming days and still faces an ouster from the party, the DMK will step in to capitalise on the situation and become the major beneficiary of the ongoing political crisis. Even if Stalin is away, reportedly in Vienna or London, holidaying, top sources in the DMK says the time is not too far for them to step in.
If the AIADMK government fall, how will the DMK benefit?
In the present political situation, DMK is most likely to get elected if the government falls and faces an election within six months. And if DMK wins the election, the favourable political climate would obviously help them to prove their strength in the subsequent local body elections, cooperative elections and the Lok Sabha elections in the months to follow. Will Central agencies start targeting DMK and its key leaders too to prevent them from taking extra ordinary steps? Wait and see.
What are the hopes of BJP for their alleged role in Tamil Nadu’s political crisis?
BJP’s National Secretary H Raja refuses to comment on reported offers and alleged threats by Delhi to facilitate a forced merger in AIADMK. But one thing that he would admit is his party’s stand to finish off the family politics of Sasikala. Whether the BJP’s plan to capture the south is going to materialise or not, the BJP believes that discarding Sasikala family from state politics will bring them credibility. And BJP believes that they have all the credible reasons to disrupt the political condition if it can wipe off the Sasikala family from Tamil Nadu politics, which remains a plan, however, and difficult than they imagined.
But if the merger happens and the government retains the majority, top BJP sources indicate that they would take the state for an early assembly polls in 2019, along with Lok Sabha polls. A larger NDA alliance comprising BJP, EPS and OPS factions, possibly Rajinikanth and smaller allies hopes to capture Tamil Nadu amidst an expected ‘Modi Wave’ in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
Will the government fall if the merger happens?
The government may or may not fall. But for sure, the merger will take the state politics onto a different level as the key condition for the merger is ousting AIADMK chief V K Sasikala and her family.
In the present condition, despite having no powers in the government and in spite of facing the wrath of the Centre, the Sasikala family continues to fight and hold an upper hand in AIADMK party machinery, which includes district leaderships, party offices, party organs such as Namadhu MGR and Jaya TV, and assets worth crores of the party parked elsewhere.
Suppose, if the merger happens and Sasikala family manages to retain their 20 or more MLAs support, the government is bound to fall. The ruling faction along with OPS faction doesn’t have the minimum number of MLAs to save the government today.
How strong are the convictions of EPS and OPS factions for a merger?
Essentially, according to leaders in both camps, both EPS and OPS are fighting a battle that they never wanted to. Going a step further, an OPS faction leader says how guilty is his leader for doing what he did since February.
Right now, the reason for the delay in the merger is not just the risk of having enough MLAs. Nor any ideological conflicts too. But it is the infighting and disagreements in both camps on sharing post-merger perks.
As expected, the EPS camp has aspirants who want to grab key posts including cabinet births after the merger. For instance, one of the key players, minister D Jayakumar, expects nothing less than a cabinet post at the Centre for his son J Jayavardhan MP, probably one of the few MPs of AIADMK with a high educational qualification.
Meanwhile, the OPS camp also has conflicts emerging from within. As he has called for a consultation meeting today evening with his key leaders, a section is opposing OPS’s wish to settle the merger with a few compromises such as sacrificing his dream to become the chief minister. While Mafoi Pandiarajan in his camp wants to seal the merger deal and get back into the state cabinet that he resigned in last February, a group led by Rajya Sabha MP V Maitreyan, a potential candidate to grab the cabinet berth at Centre reportedly offered by BJP, is strongly opposing a merger with compromises.