Claims over leadership became the focal point at the former All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam supremo J Jayalalithaa's death anniversary event held in Chennai on Sunday with the main opposition party in Tamil Nadu, led by O Panneerselvam and K Palaniswami, asserting that it is a 'fortress' that cannot be shaken by anyone.
While V K Sasikala's supporters hailed her as the 'political heir' of Jayalalithaa and 'AIADMK's general secretary,' her nephew T T V Dinakaran-led Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam (AMMK) vowed to 'democratically' retrieve the AIADMK.
The fifth death anniversary event of the former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister witnessed tense moments for a while when supporters of Dhinakaran allegedly tried to gherao senior AIADMK leaders including K Palaniswami on the arterial Kamarajar Salai while they exited the Marina beachfront memorial premises of Jayalalithaa in their vehicles.
A scuffle broke out between loyalists of Dinakaran and AIADMK cadres who raised slogans and counter-slogans while policemen whisked away some of them from the spot.
The AIADMK lodged a complaint with police alleging attack on the vehicles of their top leaders by Dinakaran's supporters using wooden logs and other things like iron rods, stones and slippers.
The complainant, an office-bearer of AIADMK wing Amma Peravai alleged that the attack took place due to the 'instigation' of AMMK leader Dhinakaran and said he and another party worker sustained injuries in the attack.
A video clip of an object swiftly landing on the bonnet of an AIADMK leader's car (that was slowly proceeding amid crowd) also surfaced.
The object in the footage, however, is not very clear and it was immediately removed by a party worker.
According to the complaint, AIADMK's top two leaders were targeted and appropriate police action was requested.
Rejecting the charge, Dinakaran tweeted that his outfit never had faith in violence and asserted that the AMMK would face politics in a democratic manner.
Led by top leaders O Panneeerselvam and K Palaniswami, the AIADMK workers, who thronged Jayalalithaa's memorial, pledged to not allow 'enemies to win through divide and rule conspiracies'.
No one was, however, explicitly named by the AIADMK in its pledge, that was read out by Panneerselvam, while others followed him.
The AIADMK is a fortress that cannot be shaken by anyone, howsoever mighty and vowed to be united and protect the party, it said.
The pledge event led by Sasiakala at the memorial exhorted cadres to rally behind her and get united under her leadership so that the AIADMK could capture power again in the state.
The oath, that was read out, hailed Sasikala as the AIADMK's 'general secretary, the revolutionary mother, Chinnamma (younger mother)', and underscored that it was essential to join hands for the party to win future elections and trounce political opponents.
To usher in the AIADMK regime, 'let us join hands under her leadership and let us emerge victorious'.
The pledge ceremony, presided by AMMK general secretary Dinakaran, apparently targeted the AIADMK leadership.
The AMMK pledge said the 'selfishness' of a few people, has caused the movement, a reference to the AIADMK, losing its uniqueness and identity as well and vowed to retrieve the parent party through the 'democratic weapon' which is the outfit run by him.
The 'selfishness' jibe is obviously aimed at Panneerselvam and Palaniswami and their supporters, though they were not named.
The Dinakaran led outfit also slammed the DMK as an 'evil force' and accused it of adopting double standards in many issues, including the Mullaperiyar dam and NEET.
The AMMK said it is marching ahead under the leadership of Dinakaran with the wishes of 'Thiyaga Thalaivi (Leader of sacrifices) Chinnamma.' Jayalalithaa is hailed as 'Amma' by her followers.
The pledge taking ceremony by both the AIADMK and Dinakaran-led outfit on the Jayalalithaa memorial premises targeted the ruling Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam.
While the AIADMK alleged that the DMK won the recent rural civic polls through 'several conspiracies' and 'power,' the principal opposition also hit out at the TN's ruling party for trying to overwhelm them by foisting many false cases.
Hailing the previous AIADMK governments steered by Jayalalithaa for its several initiatives, it slammed the DMK government for 'family rule' and vowed to 'tear up the web of conspiracy to destroy the party'.
At Jayalalithaa's mausoleum, which is part of a larger, state of the art phoenix model memorial dedicated to the former Chief Minister's memory on the Marina beachfront, Pannneerselvam, Palaniswami and other AIADMK leaders, many of them in black shirts, were the first to lay wreaths and pay homage followed by Sasikala, Dinakaran and a string of others.
Sasikala looked teary when she placed the wreath while her supporters hailed her as 'Chinnamma'.
Besides leaders, many ordinary workers, many of them women could be spotted at the memorial site.
Jayalalithaa died on December 5, 2016.
On the anniversary occasion, AIADMK workers paid floral tributes to her portraits across Tamil Nadu and distributed welfare assistance to beneficiaries and some organised community meal programmes.