Sasikala plans to drive down from Bengaluru heralding her arrival with a lot of fanfare and noise| File Photo: Twitter

Renewed battle in AIADMK as Chinnamma set to play Amma card

The ruling AIADMK in Tamil Nadu is trying to use the Amma (Jayalalithaa) Memorial to counter the Chinnamma (Junior Mother VK Sasikala)'s bid to evoke sympathy from the party cadre and the public soon after her scheduled release from a Bengaluru prison on January 27.

The ruling AIADMK in Tamil Nadu is trying to use the Amma (Jayalalithaa) Memorial to counter the Chinnamma (Junior Mother, referred to the ex-chief minister’s close aide VK Sasikala)’s bid to evoke sympathy from the party cadre and the public soon after her scheduled release from a Bengaluru prison on January 27.

It is not a coincidence that Edappadi K Palaniswami has launched his campaign as chief ministerial candidate four months ahead of the elections with Sasikala likely to be back in Chennai a few days later.

Although Palaniswami has sought to downplay the impact of Sasikala on the ruling party, it is obvious that he fears she could block his attempt to stay in power. Therefore, he has jumped the gun and hopes it would be difficult for her to reverse the decision. The general council meeting of the party too was hurriedly convened a few days ago to ratify the decision of party seniors to nominate Palaniswami as the CM candidate.

It is no secret that Sasikala, just before her arrest in the disproportionate assets case, appointed Palaniswami as the chief minister and thus, feels betrayed by him. Palaniswami stewarded the AIADMK’s decision to remove her and other family members from the party in 2017, under BJP pressure to axe Sasikala and allow the merger of the O Panneerselvam faction.

Related news | Sasikala casts shadow over AIADMK, nervous CM tries to contain cadre

Stung by the betrayal of Palaniswami, Sasikala could gun for him in the days to come. Palaniswami seems entrenched in power but it is only a question of time before she makes her move. While Palaniswami has so far succeeded in preventing her return to the party fold, there are ominous signs that the BJP leadership is keen on another merger – this time, the Sasikala-TTV Dinakaran group with the parent party.

The recent statements by RSS ideologue, Gurumurthy, favouring the move to bring Sasikala back into the party, and to accommodate TTV Dinakaran (MLA) in the new scheme of things, gives a clear indication that there has been a patch-up between the Sasikala family and the BJP leadership. The BJP hopes that the Sasikala group could help thwart the concerted effort of the DMK to oust the AIADMK from power. The DMK believes that the Sasikala family is aiding the state BJP’s attempts, with the help of central agencies, to ‘win over’ some elements in the DMK who have business empires to protect.

Some of the ministers close to the chief minister could also come under the Centre’s ‘radar’ even as the BJP mounts pressure on the AIADMK leadership to give into its demands including power share and a large share of the seats in the state assembly polls.

Sources in the AIADMK also revealed that Palaniswami may urge the BJP leadership during his ongoing visit to Delhi to discourage the move to give a fresh lease of life to Sasikala, and hope that the central investigative agencies will vigorously pursue the cases against the Sasikala family members relating to economic offences.

Related news | Rude shock for AIADMK as PMK acts tough on alliance for 2021 polls

There seems to be a visible slowdown in the progress of these cases before various courts in Chennai. Equally, Dinakaran has been lying low these past few months, perhaps hoping for reconciliation in the AIADMK camp. In the bargain, Palaniswami may offer the BJP a carrot in terms of more seats for the assembly elections as part of the alliance. However, the BJP has far seemed to be a hard nut to crack for Palaniswami.

Meanwhile, the Palaniswami  group is pursuing the strategy of playing the Amma card against the Chinnamma and hopes to rouse the sentiments of the cadre, using the inauguration of the Jayalalithaa memorial on the Marina beach.

Palaniswami has stated recently that he was not appointed CM by Sasikala, and that it was the party that elected him.  However, Sasikala may well invoke the name of Jayalalithaa to resurrect herself in the party, reminding the people and the AIADMK cadre of the “sacrifices” made by her for their leader for over three decades.

It will be interesting to watch how the Sasikala factor pans out in the next few  weeks and whether she would make references to the ‘Palaniswami betrayal’.

Read More
Next Story