The mystery behind J Jayalalithaa’s former aide, V Sasikala’s sudden decision to bid adieu to politics remains unsolved, as of now. Is it part of a bigger political game or is this former AIADMK leader, who has always played a shadowy role in Tamil Nadu politics, ready to retire to rural pastures as she claims?
Even as many theories are being bandied about her abrupt withdrawal from the political stage, her dramatic move has clearly left her nephew TTV Dhinakaran and his party, the Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam (AMMK) out in the cold, just a few weeks before a crucial Assembly polls in the state.
In fact, in 2018, Dhinakaran had launched the AMMK, as a reaction to Sasikala’s ouster from the AIADMK party, over which she had lorded over for a while. Making frequent trips to meet Sasikala in jail, and confabulating with her, he made all his moves to unsettle the current leadership, and pave the way for her return into the party fold.
At first, it seemed Sasikala was walking on that path, as she announced that she will participate in this Assembly election, after she was released from jail.
The duo was also planning to start a new front to fight the elections and retrieve the AIADMK from “selfish persons”.
However, her sudden volte face has reportedly left Dhinakaran without a plan and nothing to peg his party on. A news report in the Indian Express, which quoted sources close to the AMMK leader, said that he was neither talking to other parties nor to senior members in his own camp.
When Sasikala was in the fray, more than 1,300 applications were made by people keen to contest in the upcoming elections on the AMMK ticket. But Dhinakaran allegedly seems directionless now, and if he has to go ahead on his own, it is going to be a “lone battle” without any alliance partners, the report said.
However, a senior AIADMK leader told Indian Express that there is a possibility that the RSS leadership in Tamil Nadu is talking to the BJP leaders at the Centre to accommodate Dhinakaran’s AMMK in the AIADMK alliance. “If these talks succeed, Dhinakaran’s AMMK will become part of the AIADMK alliance in these polls,” the senior leader said.
The AIADMK has in fact given its ally, the BJP, 20 constituencies in the 234-seat House as well as the bypoll for the Kanyakumari Lok Sabha seat. They have allotted another 23 seats to S Ramdoss’ Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK). The talks with Captain Vijayakanth’s DMDK are ostensibly on.
Meanwhile, announcing its first list of candidates for six constituencies, the AIADMK has said that Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami will recontest from Edappadi in Salem, having won the seat four times in the past, while Deputy CM O Paneerselvam will contest from Bodinayakanur.
Other candidates include senior ministers D Jayakumar, who will content from Royapuram in North Chennai and C Ve Shanmugam from Villupuram.