On the day the two AIADMK factions led by E K Palaniswami and O Panneerselvam buried the hatchet and moved to oust party general secretary V K Sasikala, her loyalists, led by nephew and deputy general secretary T T V Dinakaran, had only one refrain: “Party is first”.
In the 233-member Tamil Nadu House, Dinakaran has the support of at least 20 MLAs, a number that can endanger the majority the ruling party has in the Assembly. Three Independents who were with him seemed to have switched sides.
Leaders backing Dinakaran and Sasikala’s brother Dhiwakaran said they cannot promise the stability of the Tamil Nadu government in the wake of the decision to move against Sasikala. These leaders indicated that their first target would be Palaniswami, and not the government. He will be asked to prove that he has the backing of all party MLAs. Should he fail, they will insist on another leader who has their backing as well.
Dinakaran has not yet responded to the merger. In a tweet addressed to reporters, he said: “As I have sore throat and fever, doctor has advised me rest. Will meet you all on August 23rd.”
Of the 20 MLAs with Dinakaran, 18 claimed he had the support of 25 MLAs, that Palaniswami and Panneerselvam did not have the powers to call a meeting of the party general council or remove Sasikala from her post.
These MLAs said Dinakaran will meet Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao at 10 am Tuesday. His camp will submit a memorandum stating that the MLAs who elected Palaniswami six months ago have lost trust in him. They will demand his removal.
The Opposition DMK has so far remained silent. Its working president M K Stalin, who had earlier said he would move a no-confidence motion if required, did not discuss immediate plans during a brief interaction with reporters Monday.
Stalin said the AIADMK merger was scripted by the BJP ruling the Centre. “Delhi had prepared the storyline, both OPS and EPS have acted in it,” he said.