IN A state that has witnessed intense political turmoil over the last year, the immediate impact of the victory of rebel AIADMK leader T T V Dinakaran in the R K Nagar Assembly bypoll, in the seat vacated by the late J Jayalalithaa, would be felt at three levels, say senior politicians and analysts in Tamil Nadu.
According to them, Sunday’s win will result in confusion among party cadre and top leaders about who is heading the “real party” in the eyes of voters. It will raise questions about the “true inheritor” of Jayalalithaa’s legacy, a year after her death. And, it will lead to turbulence within the unified AIADMK faction led by Chief Minister E K Palaniswamy and Deputy CM O Panneerselvam.
Speaking to The Indian Express, a senior AIADMK minister revealed that he sent his aides to meet Dinakaran’s close supporters and express support as soon as Sunday’s result was declared.
“Unknowingly, the people of R K Nagar may just have elected the next chief minister… The rebel camp will definitely gain more strength. Many MLAs of the ruling faction have already spoken to Dinakaran. We do not want this government to fall. But if that is the fate that awaits us when the Assembly session begins in January, we will join Dinakaran, retain the government and make him the chief minister,” said the Minister, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Leaders close to Dinakaran said he would not topple the government but try to “capture” it “like Palaniswami did to Panneerselvam” early this year. “What is going to be crucial is the case of the 19 disqualified MLAs supporting Dinakaran, which is expected to come up before the Madras High Court on January 9. The Assembly session next month will also give a chance to the DMK to raise the issue of a minority government,” said a leader in the Dinakaran camp.
The win has also brought hope to the Opposition DMK camp, even though its candidate in R K Nagar lost his deposit.
“If there is one more floor test, as we expect, this government will fall and we will face polls in the next six or seven months,” said a senior DMK MLA.
“The DMK will definitely move a no-confidence motion. If the verdict in the case of the 19 MLAs favours Dinakaran, he may try to avoid an election as that will favour DMK. But we hope that the BJP will respond to Dinakaran’s victory with a hammer as usual and facilitate elections,” he said.
Multiple sources in the AIADMK ruling faction indicated that a large section of its MLAs and ministers may join Dinakaran if such a situation emerges. “Except for a few top leaders, including Palaniswami, Panneerselvam and ministers such as Jayakumar and Pandiarajan, a large section of the top leadership is in touch with the Dinakaran camp or the Sasikala family,” said sources.
The DMK, meanwhile, views the result as an “emergency call” to “introspect… strategies”.
“Maybe, for the people of R K Nagar, it was not an election between the DMK and the AIADMK but a question of who is the real AIADMK. We consider this as an emergency call for DMK at the right time to introspect on our strategies,” a DMK leader said.
Another DMK leader said, “Our candidate could not match the image that Dinakaran built over the last six months.”
Asked about perception that the bypoll has confirmed Dinakaran as the inheritor of Jayalalithaa’s legacy, P Ramajayam, political analyst, Centre for Study of Social Exclusion and Inclusive Policy, Trichy, said, “The verdict has actually revealed that the AIADMK has no legacy to match MGR or Jayalalithaa. Dinakaran’s money power and micro-management at the ground level, with hundreds of supporters from other districts working in R K Nagar for the last three weeks, and the DMK’s miscalculation were all factors that gave him a huge victory and the DMK an embarrassing defeat,” he said.