An hour before AIADMK chief V K Sasikala left for Bengaluru on Wednesday to begin her four-year long incarceration, the final order that came from the Poes Garden residence was an announcement revoking the suspension of her nephews TTV Dinakaran and S Venkatesh, known as Dr Venkatesh in the party. What made the statement more significant was that Dinakaran was given the key post that of the deputy general secretary of the party, the number 2 position in the party after Sasikala.
Many in the party admit that in absence of Sasikala, it is Dinakaran who is going to act like a ‘remote-control’ for new CM Edappadi K Palaniswami. However, like Sasikala’s elevation to the party general secretary’s post, Dinakaran’s appointment was also not a surprise for many insiders as they knew the role played by Sasikala and her close relatives in both party and administration even when Jayalalithaa was alive.
However, last six years of Dinakaran’s life, after he was expelled from the party in 2011, have been relatively undocumented. A source close to him said he was doing some business in Puducherry over last four or five years. Dinakaran, however, has also faced corruption charges. Last month, the Madras High Court upheld a fine of Rs 25 crore imposed on him in a two-decade old Foreign Exchange Regulation Act (FERA) violation case relating to illegal remittance of huge cash into various bank accounts.
In another recent order, Madras HC had directed him and Sasikala to face trial in a number of FERA violation cases registered during 1995-96. He was also accused number 5 in the disproportionate asset case of Sasikala, although the supplementary chargesheet against him was withdrawn later “for want of evidence”. While public anger against the Sasikala family in Tamil Nadu dates back to Jayalalithaa’s first regime, between 1991-96 — a period that made Dinakaran’s Mannargudi family notorious for many alleged lawless deeds — insiders claim that Dinakaran in his 50s, is an exception compared to others in Mannargudi family.
“He was the only person from Sasikala family who was elected by people (from Periyakulam Lok Sabha constituency in 1999). When DMK-Congress alliance had a sweeping victory in the state in 2004 defeating all AIADMK candidates with margins over one lakh, Dinakaran was the man who suffered a lesser damage, less than 20,000 votes. He still has that popularity among people in Periyakulam,” said a senior AIADMK leader, a former minister who is with the Sasikala camp.
He added that the party did not have many options after Jayalalithaa. “I was myself treated badly by some of them in Sasikala family. But Dinakaran is different. He is a friendly person, he maintains that same relationship with party cadres as well as officials,” he said. The leader added: “Although Amma (Jayalalithaa) had given them opportunities in party, most of them including Dr Venkatesh and another relative Mahadevan were failures as they never wanted to interact with people or know their problems.” he said, claiming that Dinakaran had shaped his political career better.
Dinakaran had tried to maintain an active political career in AIADMK except a period when he was expelled after 2011. Besides his successful stint as MP between 1999 and 2004, he also served as the treasurer of AIADMK for a long period. The leader, who had joined the AIADMK in 1988, has two daughters, and his wife once held key responsibilities in Jaya TV for a long period.