A year after AIADMK general secretary V K Sasikala was convicted in a disproportionate assets case and her nephew T T V Dhinakaran launched a new party amid the turmoil in the AIADMK, fissures have emerged in the family.
Sasikala’s brother V Dhivakaran has been publicly challenging the leadership of Dhinakaran, calling him “power hungry” and blaming him for Sasikala’s fate. Dhinakaran, on his part, has said that he will not allow any family member to capture the party and make it a family affair.
Targeting Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam (AMMK), the party founded by Dhinakaran, Dhivakaran has said that he cannot agree with a party that doesn’t have ‘Dravidam’ or ‘Anna’ (denoting Annadurai, founder of DMK and mentor of AIADMK founder M G Ramachandran) in its name.
Dhivakaran, in his media interactions in the last three days, also alleged that Dhinakaran was desperate to enter politics and become a leader after J Jayalalithaa’s death. “You tried to capture power, the CM post. And the party lost the game — 123 MLAs, 38 MPs, party flag, everything has gone now. He (Dhinakaran) is left with nothing now,” he said, asserting that Dhinakaran was the reason for the AIADMK’s decline.
Sources close to the Sasikala family said the problems emerged after Dhinakaran sent strong messages to family members against their plans to enter politics. “There were requests from the Dhivakaran family to make his son Jeyanandh Dhivakaran the youth wing president of the party. Dhinakaran was against the idea,” said a relative of Sasikala. According to him, J Krishnapriya and J Vivek — children of Ilavarasi, another close relative of Sasikala and who is serving jail term along with Sasikala — also wanted to enter politics but was opposed by Dhinakaran.
“Dhinakaran seems to have convinced Sasikala about his decisions. But political aspirants in the family are not convinced. There is a strong move against Dhinakaran within the family. They are even threatening to join BJP or AIADMK to embarrass Sasikala. But Dhivakaran doesn’t have any political influence on MLAs or MPs,” said the source.
When contacted, Jeyanandh denied reports that he tried to get a key party post. In his mid-20s and active on social media, Jeyanandh said he had no political ambitions. “We have made it very clear. Still they are doubting us. It has become difficult for us to meet Sasikala in prison, so we haven’t visited her. Since we have expressed our views in public, we hope she will know about problems,” he said.
When asked if he spoke to Dhinakaran to resolve the matter, Jeyanandh said that even contacting Dhinakaran had become difficult now.
A source close to Dhinakaran told The Indian Express that he doesn’t want to make AMMK a party of the family. “Dhivakaran was nowhere in the picture. He was not active in the party, nor did he campaign for Dhinakaran in the R K Nagar bypolls. He is not visiting Sasikala in prison. Dhinakaran is ready to sacrifice his relatives for the benefit of party. So far, Sasikala is not against Dhinakaran’s decisions,” the source said.
While sources said Sasikala will soon ask rival camps in the family to keep mum, Dhinakaran has already replied to Dhivakaran.
“Dhivakaran is the brother of party general secretary Sasikala, he has no connection with AMMK. I am answerable to the party general secretary, not to others,” he said.
Dhinakaran also recalled how family dominance had weakened a party, which was struggling to return to power. “I will not allow any family dominance in the AMMK,” he said.
AMMK was founded by Dhinakaran after the AIADMK party name and symbol were bagged by the Edappadi K Palaniswami-led ruling faction.