A FORMER AIADMK MP and a nephew of party general-secretary V K Sasikala, T T V Dinakaran is credited with having groomed O Panneerselvam at the beginning of the millennium. Back in 2001, Dinakaran is said to have helped in Panneerselvam’s rise from just another office-bearer to the chief minister — at a time when Supreme Court had barred J Jayalalithaa from holding office.
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With Panneerselvam now seemingly out of reckoning from the state Secretariat after his third brief stint as the Tamil Nadu CM, Dinakaran is expected to be the new power centre in AIADMK in Sasikala’s absence – if the situation, as prevailed on Tuesday evening, holds.
Seen as the only successful politician from Sasikala’s family, Dinakaran, who is her sister Vanithamani’s son, was a popular leader until he was thrown out of AIADMK along with Sasikala in 2011. “There would have been no Panneerselvam today if Dinakaran had chosen another person to be CM in 2001. It was Panneerselvam’s loyalty to Sasikala’s family that helped him then,” a party leader said on Tuesday evening.
Dinakaran, the leader said, had stayed in Panneerselvam’s house when he had contested from Periyukulam Lok Sabha constituency in 1999. “That past makes their rivalry now more bitter,” he added.
Tamil writer and leading political analyst Gnani said operations by Sasikala’s family members have “always been faceless”.
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While sources confirmed that Sasikala’s husband, M Natarajan, is unlikely to step into active politics, as he has always been a “behind-the-scenes player”, what is beyond doubt is he will wield a lot of influence in AIADMK if the Sasikala camp, led by CM probable Edappadi Palanisamy, assumes power. A former government PRO, who has worked with the likes of M Karunanidhi and M G Ramachandran, and resigned from his job in 1991, Natarajan is now expected to coordinate party affairs and alliances. He is said to be friends with MDMK leader Vaiko and veteran Tamil politician Nedumaran, and is seen as well-connected with senior CPI and CPM leaders.
Three other key figures from the extended family are expected to play a significant role: Dr Venkatesh, Sasikala’s brother Sundaravadanam’s son; Vivek, son of another accused in Sasikala’s DA case and her sister-in-law Ilavarasi; and Sasikala’s brother V Dhivakaran.
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Once a leader in AIADMK’s youth wing, Venkatesh now coordinates key operations of the Sasikala camp from behind the scenes. Vivek, one of the youngest faces of the “Mannargudi family”, handles businesses and cinema ventures, including Jazz Cinemas, a controversial purchase from SPI Cinemas (Sathyam Cinemas). Dhivakaran, who runs a women’s college in Mannargudi besides other businesses, has always been known as a “shadow behind Sasikala”.