TTV Dinakaran might win or lose the R K Nagar bypoll, but he seems to have already won a battle for his party. AIADMK general secretary V K Sasikala’s nephew, Dinakaran is the candidate for the party’s official faction in the April 12 bypoll, necessitated by the death of J Jayalalithaa. The campaign has gained momentum. Dinakaran, a former MP who was popular in Periyakulam Lok Sabha constituency in the late 1990s, is working hard to retain R K Nagar seat. As his convoy arrives, he emerges to seek votes with folded hands. Dinakaran is mostly seen campaigning on autorickshaws. He speaks little and his behaviour is polite and humble.
Regarding Dinakaran’s candidature, a senior AIADMK leader says, “Whether he wins or not, he has already rescued the party from a major disaster at a time the party vote base is divided among three factions and the DMK has a better face. He is not like Amma or even Chinnamma. He is friendly and accessible.”
Many within the DMK and outside admit that “Stalin is not his father”, but the campaign meetings seem to indicate that the DMK has better chances in R K Nagar. N Marudhu Ganesh, a journalist-turned-politician, may not be enjoying as much limelight as Dinakaran, but his campaign is picking up pace.
Dinakaran is not just fighting the DMK. He has other reasons to work hard, thanks to E Madhusudhanan, candidate of O Panneerselvam faction of the AIADMK, and Deepa, Jayalalithaa’s niece.
The AIADMK has been underplaying the image of Sasikala in its campaign. However, B Valarmathi, a former minister who stood with Sasikala during the recent political crisis, says Sasikala is very much part of the campaign despite her physical absence.
Half a dozen senior AIADMK leaders spoke to The Indian Express about the tough fight Dinakaran had chosen to face. One leader summed up: “We will work hard.” Another said, “We will get maximum votes.” A former minister said “TTV has already rescued the party. We have four more years left.”