It is thanks to these internal differences that the much-awaited merger between the two factions has not made any headway so far, reports R Rajagopalan.
The Sasikala faction of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam is facing a tremendous amount of internal pressure, with three or four warring groups unable to come to grips with each other.
With the faction leaders V K Sasikala and her nephew TTV Dinakaran behind bars, there has been behind-the-scenes build-up by various second-rung leaders to jostle for positions, with no collective leadership visible that can overcome these differences.
Even the rival faction, headed by former chief minister O Panneerselvam, has been facing internal conflicts.
In both the camps, the undercurrents of dissension in the top leadership have come to the fore after the meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi – OPS’s last week, and Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami’s this week.
In the EPS’s cabinet there are three-four groups that are vying with each other for supremacy, and things may remain fluid till Dinakaran is released and is able to exert some control over the faction.
The saving grace here is that it is not facing any financial crunch, thanks to which the faction’s day-to-day administration and the operations of Jaya TV and Namadhu MGR, its mouthpieces, are being met without any hitch.
But the internal differences were visible when the chief minister was camping in New Delhi on Wednesday. Unlike earlier, when the entire state cabinet would accompany the visiting CM, this time only his top associates came to the capital. The M Thambidurai group was conspicuous by its absence, as were the Sasikala loyalists who stayed away from EPS’s meeting with Prime Minister Modi.
Insiders in the Sasikala faction hint that the first casualty in the internal battle for supremacy is Lok Sabha Deputy Speaker Thambidurai. The EPS faction conveyed to the Prime Minister’s Office that the chief minister’s co-brother Manickam will act as interpreter, in place of the former, and secured an appointment.
It is thanks to these internal differences that the much-awaited merger between the two factions has not made any headway so far.
While the OPS faction blames Thambidurai and the state government’s special representative in New Delhi for being the stumbling blocks to the merger moves, the Sasikala faction in turn blames a few senior leaders in the rival camp for the peace talks going nowhere.
All said and done, things will become clearer only after the Election Commission commences hearings into the two leaves election symbol case.
Interestingly, the Bharatiya Janata Party is learnt to have told the two factions that there is no tearing hurry to settle the matter since there is no election facing Tamil Nadu in the near future and to expect any developments after July, once the current CEC Syed Nasim Zaidi demits office.
The effect of this prolonged phase of uncertainty has had a negative impact on cadre morale, with the rank and file of the two camps unsure of how to deal with the rival camp. The only positive outcome, said an insider, is that there has been no defection from both the camps to the rival DMK.
Image: Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami addresses the media after meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi on May 24, 2017.
R Rajagopalan is a senior journalist in New Delhi, and has reported on Tamil Nadu for decades.