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Sunday, July 15, 2018

Why today’s Melur rally is a matter of life and death for the Sasikala family

If TTV Dinakaran fails to get at least 10 MLAs on stage with him, it could well spell an end for Sasikala's political future and that of her family.

Written by Arun Janardhanan | Chennai | Updated: August 14, 2017 2:31:22 pm
ttv dinakaran, tamil nadu, sasikala, tamil nadu politics, aiadmk, aiadmk split, jayalalithaa, news, tamil nadu news AIADMK(Amma) Deputy General Secretary TTV Dinakaran addressing the media at his residence in Chennai on Friday. PTI Photo

Preparations underway for a public rally of TTV Dinakaran at Melur, a suburban village of Madurai, appears to be quite similar to that of how the party used to organise when late chief minister J Jayalalithaa was alive. And, the massive work going behind this public rally to be addressed by the AIADMK deputy general secretary and nephew of V K Sasikala, is going to be crucial for the very political existence of the Sasikala family itself. This, as a merger pack is being sealed in New Delhi by the two rival factions in the party, essentially to wipe off her family from Tamil Nadu politics.

So why will the Melur rally be crucial?

The Melur rally of TTV Dinakaran can only be a success if he manages to get a minimum of 15 MLAs on stage. Fifteen MLAs are enough to topple the current Tamil Nadu government or to even delay the merger pack designed by the ruling BJP at the Centre. But, if the number of MLAs that show up is below 10, it may be the death knell for Sasikala’s political career.

“If we have 15 or 30 MLAs on stage, it means nothing but BJP’s agenda to install a government in their favour wouldn’t be working. Not only that, if TTV has that support, remaining MLAs and ministers in EPS (Edappadi K Palaniswami) camp could also join us. If the number of MLAs are going to be less than 10, no comments,” one of the few MLAs in the TTV camp now said.

When the TTV camp claimed the support of 37 MLAs last week, the number had gone down to 10 or 12 on Saturday. If TTV is making a come back, it will sabotage the plans of Delhi to install a BJP-friendly government in the state and to rule it with a governor like in Puducherry until they take the state for an early assembly polls in 2019 along with Lok Sabha polls, as they wish.

Who is making the Melur rally a success?

Senthil Balaji. Among the three key leaders who are currently in the TTV camp, Balaji is playing the kingmaker of TTV in Melur. A source close to Balaji said they chose August 14 for the Melur rally because of the holiday season. “Being a former transport minister, Balaji knows where all we could avail buses and vans of schools and colleges in Madurai region to transport people for the rally. He was working hard to make the rally a grand success for two weeks,” the source said.

Once a trusted aide of Jayalalithaa and in-charge of her successful political rallies in many districts in 2014 and 2016, Balaji in his 40s knows how to make a public rally successful.

Being one of the few senior leaders in Sasikala camp, Balaji also knows it is a matter of life and death for himself.

What exactly is happening at the two rival camps of TTV?

Unlike earlier, AIADMK has changed a lot after Jayalalithaa’s death, with derailed party hierarchies. Ever since the reports of BJP offering a cabinet post and two Minister of State (MoS) posts for a united AIADMK, almost every other leader in the senior layer wants to be a Union minister. While V Maitreyan, Rajya Sabha MP, is reportedly the obvious pick for union cabinet post if the merger works out, there are many more caste equations also being played out now.

“The merger will happen only if Sasikala is removed from the party. If Sasikala is removed, OPS will become the General Secretary and the deputy Chief Minister,” said a source.

He added that the merger is currently delayed for two reasons: Utter failure of state police intelligence that couldn’t figure out the number of MLAs supporting Dinakaran camp, and due to the conflict between top leaders who are fighting for ministerial posts in state and Centre in EPS and OPS camps.

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