Former Andipatti MLA and AMMK propaganda secretary Thanga Tamilselvan, who fell out with the party leader TTV Dhinakaran, joined the DMK in the presence of its chief M K Stalin at party headquarters Anna Arivalayam in Chennai on Friday. Tamilselvan became the third leader from AMMK after Senthil Balaji and VP Kalairajan to join the DMK.
Tamilselvan’s quarrel with Dhinakaran came out in the open after an audio clip of him passing intemperate remarks about Dhinakaran to AMMK Madurai co-ordinator Chella Pandian went viral on social media. The next day, Dhinakaran held a press conference and said Tamilselvan’s behavior wasn’t aligning with party principles and that a new propaganda secretary will be appointed by July 1.
In these circumstances, reports of Tamilselvan joining the AIADMK started to emerge. Sources close to Tamilselvan said Chief Minister Edappadi K Palanisamy was ready to accept Tamilselvan, however, his deputy O Panneerselvam was firm against admitting him into the party.
On Friday, Tamilselvan along with some of the AMMK functionaries joined the DMK.
“In the elections, people of Tamil Nadu took a good decision. MK Stalin is the only person who can provide good leadership in the state. We should respect Thalapathy’s work; he accepted the people from AIADMK without animosity and treated them well. Parties with unitary leadership can only function well; DMK followed it and won the elections. After the demise of Amma, there are multiple leaderships inside AIADMK, they are nothing but a BJP benami and I don’t want to join that party losing my self-respect,” he said.
Why did AMMK leaders jump ship to DMK?
When Dhinakaran launched his party he said his only motive was to save the AIADMK from traitors. Several senior functionaries and cadres joined his party, but they soon seemed to have realized that it was a losing battle, and they started to rethink their options. The members who held some key position in AIADMK and jumped ship to AMMK are now shifting their base to DMK because they don’t want to go back to AIADMK as they may not get proper recognition or posts which they held. DMK, on the other hand, valued the members from other parties, the likes of Muthusamy, TM Selvaganapathy, E V Velu and now Sekar Babu have all been given key positions in DMK.
What prompted Tamilselvan to join DMK, not AIADMK?
During the 1992 parliament elections, when TTV Dhinakaran contested from the defunct Periyakulam constituency, AIADMK appointed six coordinators including Pannerselvam, Thanga Tamilselvan, Melur Swamy and SN Rajendran for the six assembly constituencies that came under the Periyakulam constituency.
Pannerselvam introduced Tamilselvan to the party headquarters and helped him acquire key positions in AIADMK. However, after a certain period of time, he fell apart with OPS and operated separately even when former CM J Jayalalithaa was alive. It was his past rivalry with OPS that made him join Dhinakaran’s party.
With Ravindranath Kumar’s sweeping victory in Lok Sabha elections from Theni constituency, Tamilselvan’s dream of gaining back the clout in the area vanished. Even when Palanisamy was keen on getting Tamilselvan back in the party, OPS strongly objected to his return.
Apart from the bitter rivalry, they both hail from the same community and OPS doesn’t want a bitter rival in the same party.
With chief commanders gone, what does the future hold for Dhinakaran?
TTV Dhinakaran won the RK Nagar bypoll in 2017 by a margin of 40,707 votes. He became the first Independent candidate to win a bypoll in Tamil Nadu Assembly elections. The victory boosted Dhinakaran’s confidence and he formed the Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam, the rebel faction of All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam on 15th March 2018. He promised that he will give Amma’s regime and will save the party from traitors.
The fledgling AMMK party which looked like it would post a huge threat to AIADMK, endured setbacks one after another.
In February this year, the Delhi High Court ruled that the two-leaf symbol belongs to the EPS-OPS faction and dismissed TTV Dhinakaran’s plea. He suffered the second blow after the Madras High Court upheld TN Assembly Speaker P Dhanapal’s decision to disqualify 18 rebel legislators under the anti-defection law.