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Saturday, April 10, 2021

‘Real Dharma Yudham’: Despite Sasikala surprise, TTV to fight polls, joins hands with AIMIM

Tamil Nadu assembly polls: “AMMK aims to establish Amma rule in this election. We are definitely going to win,” Dhinakaran said.

Written by Arun Janardhanan | Chennai |
Updated: March 9, 2021 7:12:15 am
TTV Dhinakaran, AMMK releases list of candidates, AIADMK faction, Tamil Nadu assembly polls, Tamil nadu elections, Indian expressT T V Dhinakaran. (File)

While VK Sasikala’s sudden decision to step away from politics may have rattled the Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam (AMMK), her nephew TTV Dhinakaran seems to be moving ahead with his poll plans. The AMMK will contest the Tamil Nadu Assembly elections from “as many seats as possible”, and has also got an ally — Asaduddin Owaisi’s All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen (AIMIM).

On Monday, talking to reporters, Dhinakaran said “nothing could stop him” and the battle he is going to wage would be the real “dharma yudham,”  — a term used by deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam in early 2017 when he declared a revolt against then-AIADMK general secretary Sasikala.

“AMMK aims to establish Amma rule in this election. We are definitely going to win,” Dhinakaran said. “The people of Tamil Nadu will vote for us, we have a strong conviction about that,” he added, comparing his camp to the Pandavas.

While AMMK has not been able to strike an alliance with any major party in Tamil Nadu, Owaisi’s AIMIM joined hands with it on Monday. Vaniyambadi, Krishnagiri and Sankarapuram are the three seats where AIMIM will be contesting in the AMMK alliance.

Dhinakaran’s decision to fight the polls can prove to be a headache for the ruling AIADMK, whose vote share the AMMK managed to dent in the last Lok Sabha polls. Before that, Dhinakaran, with his money power and charisma, had contested from R K Nagar constituency as an Independent, and defeated both the ruling AIADMK and DMK.

Many AIADMK leaders who were with him until recently and those who are still in touch with his camp said Dhinakaran contesting will be more about spoiling AIADMK’s chances than winning. “It is not about winning… Majority of the people who vote for AMMK candidates will be AIADMK supporters. Especially in north Chennai as well as Delta and Southern Tamil Nadu regions. The Sasikala camp continues to hold some appeal over people. The AMMK also enjoys support from the Thevar community, which was systematically favoured and nurtured by Sasikala when Jayalalithaa was alive,” said a senior AIADMK leader.

“Many have sympathy for Sasikala and Dhinakaran as she had to undergo a four-year prison term. They also think she was threatened to withdraw from politics. Even a section of them voting for AMMK would be enough to spoil AIADMK’s chances,” the leader added.

When asked how much impact Dhinakaran would have without the support of Sasikala, another senior AIADMK leader said Sasikala’s decision was a tricky one. “She appealed for unity of all cadres to defeat DMK. So nobody can blame her if AIADMK is defeated. And note that she did not appeal to people to vote for AIADMK or AMMK,” he said.

The leader, an insider of AIADMK from the delta region, said even if Sasikala speaks against the AMMK, it may not have a huge impact, because the party has been founded by Dhinakaran.

“Sasikala was in prison. There may be a minor section who would consider Sasikala and Dhinakaran in separate camps, but whatever support Dhinakaran enjoys in Tamil Nadu politics is something he has built on his own. Even some people who believed allegations that Sasikala was the reason behind Jayalalithaa’s death would love to see Dhinakaran as a leader, for his charisma and as there is a strong leadership vacuum,” he said.

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