Tamil Nadu’s ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) is facing dissension within the party ahead of the April 12 bypoll for Chennai’s R K Nagar constituency, which fell vacant after Chief Minister Jayalalithaa’s death in December.
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The party is in a dilemma whether to field Deputy General Secretary T T V Dinakaran for the byelection. Sources said that Dinakaran, who is leading the party in the absence of jailed interim general secretary V K Sasikala, is thinking of contesting the bypoll despite warnings from well wishers that it could be suicidal while he is unsure of the outcome.
Dinakaran handled the crisis following Jayalalithaa’s death and successfully managed the floor test in the Assembly against rebel O Panneerselvam. But two key leaders from Coimbatore fought over supremacy in the party at a meeting of AIADMK office-bearers last week, in a sign of brewing troubles within the party.
A leader, who attended the meeting, said that Minister S P Velumani and Deputy Speaker Pollachi V Jayaraman fought despite Dinakaran’s intervention.
“Jayaraman, who spoke at the meeting, complained that Velumani has become a dominant power in the party and is taking decisions on local body contracts on his own,’’ said the leader. “Citing Velumani’s favouritism, Jayaraman blamed his autocratic leadership for losing three MLAs (to the Panneerselvam camp) from Coimbatore region. Velumani also added that Jayaraman, despite his seniority, may not be knowing much about Coimbatore as he has been working in Tirupur until the last elections.’’
The leader said Jayaraman argued that the party had lost over 30,000 cadres along with the three MLAs. “He referred to a huge crowd of over 4,000 people at Panneerselvam faction’s hunger agitation last week in Coimbatore… he blamed Velumani for weakening the party in Coimbatore.’’
Similar issues are simmering in Chennai, Trichy and Tirunelveli. Two leaders, who oppose Minister Vellamandi N Natarajan in Trichy, said they would soon take a decision if the party leadership ignored their complaints.
In Tirunelveli, powerful leader Nainar Nagendran, who was defeated in the last elections, is lobbying for more power while a new set of leaders is against him. The Nagendran faction, known for close links with Sasikala, is hopeful that it will get powerful posts in Tirunelveli and control over government projects. Dinakaran remains helpless as the office-bearers in Tirunelveli are against Nagendran. In Chennai, two key leaders, E Madhusudhanan and M Pandirarajan, have defected to the Panneerselvam camp.
In this backdrop, R K Nagar election may turn out to be an indicator of Tamil Nadu’s political scene in the coming years, especially when DMK is sounding confident of success. The Panneerselvam faction is likely to field Madhusudhanan as candidate, while Jayalalithaa’s niece, Deepa, has started campaigning in R K Nagar.