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AIADMK, the story so far

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The story, which began with the appointment of Sasikala as the AIADMK General Secretary, saw high drama from all sides.

Six months after the death of late Chief Minister Jayalalithaa, the two warring factions of All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) formally merged on Monday. The story, which began with the appointment of Sasikala as the AIADMK General Secretary, didn't end before there was high drama from all sides. There were rival factions, MLAs hidden away, floor tests, bribery allegations and more.

Here's a look at how the events unfolded.

AIADMK, the story so far

Tamil Nadu Speaker disqualifies 18 dissident AIADMK MLAs

Eighteen dissident AIADMK MLAs belonging to the T.T.V. Dhinakaran faction, who had withdrawn support to Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami, were on Monday disqualified from their posts by Assembly Speaker P. Dhanapal.

Announcing this, Assembly Secretary K. Boopathy said in an official release that since the Speaker has disqualified them under Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly (Disqualification on Ground of Defection) Rules, 1986, the 18 AIADMK MLAs have lost their MLA posts.

Click here for the gazette notification.

Only last week senior lawyer Kapil Sibal, who appeared for the DMK, told the Madras High Court that he feared the Speaker could disqualify these legislators and conduct a floor test to facilitate Mr. Palaniswami to prove his majority in the Assembly.

With the disqualification of the 18 MLAs the collective strength of legislators in the 234-member House has come down to 215 (including the seat that fell vacant after the demise of Jayalalithaa). Mr Palaniswami now needs the support of just 108 MLAs, excluding that of the Speaker, to prove his majority and he can easily sail through a floor test.

The disqualified MLAs are:

Thanga Tamilselvan (Andipatti)

R. Murugan (Harur)

Cho. Mariappan Kennedy (Manamadurai)

Dr. K. Kathikamu (Periyakulam)

C. Jayanthi Padmanabhan (Gudiyattam)

P. Palaniappan (Pappireddipatti)

V. Senthil Balaji (Aravakurichi)

Dr. S. Muthiah (Paramakudi)

P. Vetrivel (Perambur)

N.G. Parthiban (Sholingar)

M. Kothandapani (Thiruporur)

T.A. Elumalai (Poonamallee)

M. Rengasamy (Thanjavur)

R. Thangadurai (Nilakottai)

R. Balasubramani (Ambur)

'Ethirkottai' S.G. Subramanian (Sattur)

R. Sundararaj (Ottapidaram)

K. Uma Maheshwari (Vilathikulam)

Though notices were issued by the Speaker initially to 19 AIADMK MLAs, who took sides with Mr. Dhinakaran on the recommendation of Chief Government Whip S. Rajendran, one of them S.T.K. Jakkaiyan (Cumbum) shifted his loyalties and to the Chief Minister.

Significantly the 18 dissident AIADMK MLAs have neither quit their party membership nor joined another political party.

Correction and clarification: The article had earlier stated that Mr Palaniswami needs the support of 107 MLAs

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AIADMK, the story so far

19 pro-Dhinakaran MLAs withdraw support to Palaniswami

Dhinakaran loyalist and Andipatti MLA Thangatamilselvan. File photo  

They call on the Governor at Raj Bhavan and submit letters expressing lack of confidence in the Chief Minister.

A day after the merger of two AIADMK factions, 19 MLAs owing allegiance to ''ousted'' deputy general secretary T.T.V. Dhinakaran on Tuesday submitted letters to Governor Ch.Vidyasagar Rao at Raj Bhavan, expressing lack of confidence in Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami and withdrawing support to him.

As things stand now, the Palaniswami faction falls short of a simple majority by one seat.

In the identical letters submitted to the Governor, the MLAs stated that the Chief Minister has "forfeited" their confidence and that of the public and hence they were withdrawing their support to him. They urged the Governor to "intervene and institute the constitutional process".

 

"The Governor received our letters and said he would take action”, one of the 19 MLAs told The Hindu.

The Governor later left for Mumbai, sources in the Raj Bhavan said.

Andipatti MLA Thangatamilselvan, addressing the media outside Mr. Dhinakaran's residence in Adyar in Chennai, said, "Our aim is to bring about a no-confidence motion against the Chief Minister. You will have to wait and see how we will change the Chief Minister."

Sources in the Dhinakaran camp said that they were totally against the way in which the merger was made without consulting them. "It was because of Mr. Panneerselvam, we had to face a confidence motion against the Chief Minister and that he had only few MLAs. Also, we lost our Two Leaves symbol because of him."

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AIADMK, the story so far

AIADMK factions bury the hatchet

Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami, Governor C. Vidyasagar Rao and Deputy Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam at the swearing in at Raj Bhavan on Monday.   | Photo Credit: S.R. Raghunathan

O. Panneerselvam sworn in as Deputy CM, to hold Finance portfolio; Edappadi, OPS to co-chair 11-member party coordination committee

Former Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam was on Monday sworn in as Deputy Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu after he merged his AIADMK (Puratchi Talaivi Amma) with Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami’s AIADMK (Amma) faction.

However, a decision on Mr. Panneerselvam’s principal demand to oust jailed leader V.K. Sasikala and her family from the party was deferred.

Even as the two factions came together after six months, 18 legislators expressed support to “ousted” deputy general secretary T.T.V. Dhinakaran and sought an appointment with Governor Ch. Vidyasagar Rao on Tuesday. Perambur legislator P. Vetrivel, who briefed journalists at Jayalalithaa’s memorial where the rebel MLAs assembled late in the evening, refused to reveal what they planned to discuss with the Governor.

The unified AIADMK now has the support of only 117 MLAs, including the Speaker, in the 233-member House.

 

Power-sharing deal

As per a power sharing arrangement worked out between the factions, Mr. Panneerselvam, who was thrice sworn-in Chief Minister for short tenures, agreed to be Mr. Palaniswami’s deputy, holding the portfolios of Finance, Housing and Urban Development. A member of his camp, ‘Ma Foi’ K. Pandiarajan, was appointed Minister for Tamil Official Language and Culture. The portfolios of some other Ministers were also changed.

In the unified AIADMK, a coordination committee has been set up with Mr. Panneerselvam as chairperson and Mr. Palaniswami as co-chair. One representative each from the two camps — former Minister K.P. Munusamy and organising secretary and Rajya Sabha member R. Vaithilingam have been made deputy chairpersons. There will be 11 members in the steering committee.

In response to the Panneerselvam camp’s demand for the removal of Sasikala as interim general secretary, Mr. Vaithilingam told mediapersons that a resolution would be adopted to this effect at a meeting of the party general council to be called soon.

Addressing a gathering of party leaders and senior members, Mr. Panneerselvam, who visited the party office after a gap of six-and-a-half months, described the merger as historic and said that with the reunion, “I relieve myself of the burden [caused by the split]” and “no one can hereafter separate us” amid applause from those present. The merger had been made, fulfilling “dreams of workers” of the party. He added that as a unified organisation, the party would face its political adversaries in all elections in future.

As it happened: AIADMK merger: Panneerselvam to be Deputy CM, gets finance portfolio

‘Blow to sceptics’

Recalling how he faced a “number of problems” in the last six months, Mr. Palaniswami said the merger had come about to end that phase, and Mr. Panneerselvam had “wholeheartedly come forward”.

Some were sceptical about the reunion but the coming together of the two factions had delivered a “strong blow” to their thoughts, the Chief Minister said and added that the immediate priority was to retrieve the “two leaves” symbol.”

Though it became clear even on Saturday that the merger would happen on Monday, considered auspicious being a new moon day, the much-awaited event took place only after a couple of hours of uncertainty.

For starters, Mr. Panneerselvam, who was expected at the AIADMK headquarters in Royapettah around noon, did not turn up. Mr. Vaithilingam and Ministers P. Thangamani and S.P. Velumani shuttled between Mr. Panneerselvam’s residence and Mr. Palaniswami’s house, both on Greenways Road.

At 1.55 p.m., School Education Minister K.A. Sengottaiyan told The Hindu that Mr. Palaniswami would come to the party headquarters shortly, implying that the merger would, indeed, take place.

About 15 minutes later, the Chief Minister reached the party office. Around 2.45 p.m., Mr. Panneerselvam followed.

Visit to memorial

Before going to the Raj Bhavan for the swearing-in, the two leaders visited the Marina to pay homage jointly at the memorials of Jayalalithaa, M.G. Ramachandran and C.N. Annadurai.

The AIADMK had split in February after Mr. Panneerselvam revolted against Sasikala. Eleven more legislators followed him and his faction came to be recognised by the Election Commission as the AIADMK (Puratchi Thalaivi Amma), whereas the other group was called the AIADMK (Amma).

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AIADMK, the story so far

T.N. to probe Jayalalithaa’s death

Former Chief Minister Jayalalithaa stepping out of her house in Poes Garden. File photo  

Former CM’s residence in Chennai to be made a public memorial, says CM Edappadi K. Palaniswami

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami on Thursday announced that an inquiry commission headed by a retired High Court judge would be constituted to probe the death of former Chief Minister Jayalalithaa in December last year.

A decision on the judge who will head the commission will be taken in due course, Mr. Palaniswami said, flanked by several senior Cabinet Ministers at the Secretariat.

Not consulted: Deepa

Mr. Palaniswami also said that ‘Veda Nilayam’, the erstwhile residence of Jayalalithaa in Poes Garden here, would be converted into a public memorial, an announcement that was slammed by Jayalalithaa’s niece Deepa Jayakumar, who questioned the unilateral decision sans consultations with heirs. Till date, it is not clear if Jayalalithaa left behind a will bequeathing her vast estate to anyone.

The sudden announcements are essentially seen as a move to put pressure on the AIADMK (Puratchi Thalaivi Amma) to come forward for negotiating a quick merger with the ruling AIADMK (Amma) and to checkmate “ousted” deputy general secretary T.T.V. Dhinakaran, who is in a combative mood.

The Panneerselvam faction had laid down two conditions for a merger — an inquiry into Jayalalithaa’s death (varying from a CBI probe to a judicial probe) and expelling Sasikala and her family from the AIADMK. During Jayalalithaa’s 75-day hospitalisation, only Sasikala and the doctors and paramedical staff had access to her.

A campaign to convert the Veda Nilayam into a memorial was also launched by Mr. Panneerselvam.

 

The Palaniswami faction recently “nullified” Mr. Dhinakaran’s appointment as deputy general secretary but had not expelled him or distanced itself from Sasikala.

For the record, Mr. Palaniswami said that based on various representations from many different organisations, “an inquiry commission headed by a retired High Court judge will be constituted to investigate Amma’s (Jayalalithaa) death.”

While Mr. Panneerselvam did not react to the announcements, his follower former Minister Ma Foi K. Pandiarajan, tweeted “Victory for #OPS dharma yuddham! All 3 key demands by OPS met decisively! Time to transparently negotiate for a merger! #UnitedAdmk”. Mr. Panneerselvam is expected to respond on Friday after holding consultations with other leaders.

Apollo Hospitals welcomes inquiry

Welcoming the decision to set up an inquiry commission, Apollo Hospitals in a statement said “the team at Apollo Hospitals, which relentlessly fought to save her, is confident that the Committee will bring to light the outstanding treatment and care she received.” The findings of the Committee “will put to rest all the unfounded speculation in this regard.”

The Chief Minister said, “to enable people to know her achievements and sacrifices, Veda Nilayam will be converted into a public memorial and people will be given access to it.”

Following the announcement, reporters and photographers who went to Poes Garden were not allowed access to the lane leading to Veda Nilayam and were turned away by police personnel. Deepa Jayakumar claimed that she and her brother were the legal heirs to the property and questioned how anyone could take it away from them.

OPS camp divided

Leaders in the Panneerselvam camp who spoke to The Hindu however seem divided on the announcement of the inquiry commission. While Mr. Pandiarajan welcomed both the announcements, party presidium chairman E. Madhusudhanan said a CBI inquiry was important and it was necessary to go into the medical records of Jayalalithaa since the time Sasikala was readmitted into the Poes Garden household in 2012.

Mr. Pandiarajan, however, said the time was ripe for transparent talks.

“We welcome these announcements. We need to move to the next stage. While I can’t disclose what will be the scope of discussions, it is for both OPS and EPS to sit down and work out the finer details,” he said.

Issues such as party structure and who gets what responsibility need to be thrashed out, he added.

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AIADMK, the story so far

The Dhinakaran rebellion: Decoding the loyalty factor

T.T.V. Dhinakaran  

Sasikala’s nephew is leveraging the base the family had built within the AIADMK over a period of time

The odds are seemingly against T. T. V. Dhinakaran. He is a nephew of V. K. Sasikala, jailed interim general secretary of the All India Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK), and the Sasikala clan is apparently at a disadvantage in the battle of public perception. Mr. Dhinakaran himself is facing two cases filed by the Enforcement Directorate for having violated provisions of the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act. The Edappadi K. Palaniswami and O. Panneerselvam factions have united against him and give the impression of being numerous. The tweets by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the day of the merger of the two factions and the statements of many BJP leaders in the State seem to lend credence to the perception that the merger and the sidelining of Mr. Dhinakaran and the Sasikala family have the backing of the BJP that is ruling at the Centre.

Yet, the talk today on the corridors of Fort St. George, the seat of power of the State government and the Assembly, is the question mark over the longevity of the government — created by the Dhinakaran rebellion. Mr. Dhinakaran has been able to evoke strong loyalty among more than 20 MLAs — many in the Sasikala family and outside claim his ranks will swell soon — and have 19 of them express their opposition to the Palaniswami government to the Tamil Nadu Governor.

Whether it’s by picking raw hands and putting them in positions of power, creating camaraderie through personal rapport, being generous with cash or just through a syncing of personal interests, Mr. Dhinakaran and the Sasikala family have amassed many IOUs in the AIADMK. Mr. Dhinakaran is cashing in on these IOUs now. Having made clear that their goal is not to dislodge the government but a campaign against Mr. Palaniswami and Mr. Panneerselvam, his camp wants to roll back the sidelining of Mr. Dhinakaran.

First-term MLAs

A key aspect of the Dhinakaran MLAs is that 16 are first time MLAs. For example, K. Kathirkamu, Periyakulam MLA, joined the party a few months before the polls as he was the Dean of the Theni Medical College till the end of 2015. Several party leaders familiar with AIADMK functioning when Jayalalithaa was alive testify that many of the first time MLAs of the 2016 Assembly election owe their ticket to the members of Sasikala’s family.

But, what is more interesting is that some long-standing members of the party such as S.T.K. Jakkaiyan, who was elected to the Lok Sabha during the 1982 by-election to the Periyakulam parliamentary constituency, are backing the rebel leader. Mr. Jakkaiyan, now MLA of Cumbum, is one among three MLAs in the Theni district who are supporting Mr. Dhinakaran. The district has only four legislators, the fourth being Deputy Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam.

N.G. Parthiban of Sholinghur is a first-time legislator but hails from a political family that has been associated with the party since inception. His father, C. Gopal, was elected from Sholinghur in 1980.

Mr. Parthiban and Mr. Jakkaiyan, and several other leaders, believe it is Mr. Dhinakaran who can carry the people with him, not Mr. Palaniswami or Mr. Panneerselvam. “The way Mr. Dhinakaran handles the party cadres and party functionaries is amazing. His political manoeuvring is also exceptional,” says Mr. Jakkaiyan.

Describing Mr. Dhinakaran as “the future of the AIADMK,” R. Manoharan, former Government Chief Whip and former MLA from Tiruchi East, says “over 70% of the present MLAs and MPs were actually identified and promoted by Mr.Dhinakaran when he was State secretary of Amma Peravai.”

The well attended Melur meeting seems to have demonstrated Mr. Dhinakaran personal standing, in the eyes of some. “Is it [turnout] not enough?” says R. Thangathurai, another loyalist and Nilakottai MLA, adding that Mr. Dhinakaran is a “mass leader” in the post-Jayalalithaa scenario. Sources in the Dindigul unit of the party say it was with the help of Mr. Dhinakaran that Mr. Thangathurai got the ticket to contest in 2016 despite stiff competition from former MLA S. Thenmozhi, who was supported by former Transport Minister Natham R. Viswanathan.

C. Sivasami, Tiruppur’s former Member of Parliament, recounts how Mr. Dhinakaran called him immediately after the 2002 Andipatti by-election, “where I worked for the victory of Jayalalitha, to know how much I had spent. He had subsequently sent the amount to me.”

Saying that Mr. Dhinakaran has the “leadership qualities and temperament” to keep everyone together, V. Rajendran, former deputy secretary of the Melur unit of the AIADMK, he would not support anyone else of the Mannargudi family for the leadership of the party. An MLA, now in the Puducherry resort, says other members of the Sasikala family will not wield much influence if Mr. Dhinakaran is in-charge.

Mr. Dhinakaran has not only demonstrated his hold in O. Panneerselvam’s home base of Theni, even Salem, the home district of the Chief Minister, is susceptible to Mr. Dhinakaran’s campaign. At present, all the eight MLAs of the district are backing Mr. Palaniswami but a majority of them are “fence sitters,” says a senior leader. They have thrown their weight behind Mr. Palaniswami as they want the present the regime to continue. If there are indications of Mr. Dhinarakan gaining the upper hand, a majority of the MLAs will not hesitate to switch sides. To drive his point home, the senior leader explains that a group of members of the party recently burnt effigies of Mr. Dhinakaran in different parts of the district, but many of the local MLAs did not participate in it.

Driving a wedge

Senior members of the Palaniswami camp, however, say “local equations” have driven many to Mr. Dhinakaran’s side. For instance, P. Palaniappan, former Higher Education Minister, does not get along well with his successor, K. P. Anbalagan, who is also from the Dharmapuri district. Likewise, in Karur district, Senthil Balaji, who won from Aravakurichi last year, has been dislodged from his place of prominence by the present Transport Minister M.R. Vijayabaskar. Besides, it is an open secret that Mr. Senthil Balaji does not enjoy good equations with Deputy Speaker of Lok Sabha M. Thambidurai, who represents Karur and is another important leader in the Palaniswami camp.

It is debatable whether voters of constituencies, held by the pro-Dhinakaran legislators, are impressed with the stand of their representatives. In Sholinghur, the “long absence” of Mr. Parthiban and his stand do not seem to have gone well among a cross-section of people.

M. Shanmugam, former chairman of Tirupur District Panchayat who has been with the party for 40 years and till now with the Panneerselvam faction, says Mr. Dhinakaran may be enjoying the support of some loyalists as he would have given them some position. “This does not mean that the entire workforce of the party is behind him.”

(With inputs from L. Srikrishna and Pon Vasanth Arunachalam in Madurai; K. Raju in Cumbum; R. Vimal Kumar in Tiruppur; Syed Muthahar Saqaf in Salem; C. Jaisankar in Tiruchi and M. Serena Josephine in Vellore)

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AIADMK, the story so far

AIADMK after Jayalalithaa: from a split to merger in six months

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister K. Palanisami and Deputy CM O. Paneerselvam visit former Chief Minister Jayalalithaa's memorial after announcing the merger of the two warring AIADMK factions.   | Photo Credit: R. Ragu

The government too saw three Chief Ministers within a span of a year

Since the demise of Jayalalithaa in December last, the four- decade-old AIADMK had gone through a sea of changes, from accepting her longtime aide as its general secretary to a split. The government too saw three Chief Ministers within a span of a year.

On Monday , the two major factions led by former Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam and Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami merged.

Here is a timeline of events:

December 5, 2016: Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa passes way 74 days after she was admitted to Apollo Hospitals in Chennai. The same day, Governor Ch. Vidyasagar Rao administers oath of office to O. Panneerselvam as Chief Minister.

A poster of V.K. Sasikala, projecting her as the next AIADMK leader seen in Royapettah, Chennai   | Photo Credit: R. Ragu

 

December 29, 2016: The AIADMK general council unanimously passes a resolution appointing V.K. Sasikala, close aide of Jayalalithaa, as general secretary of the party. The resolution says that until the formal election process is completed, she will hold all powers that come with the post.

February 4, 2017: Expelled AIADMK Rajya Sabha member Sasikala Pushpa submits “letter of dissent” to the Election Commission on the “undemocratic nomination” of Sasikala as the interim general secretary of the AIADMK.

February 5, 2017: Exactly two months after Jayalalithaa’s death, Sasikala was “unanimously” elected leader of the Legislature Party at a meeting in the party headquarters, paving the way for her to become the third woman Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu. Mr. Panneerselvam sends his resignation to the Governor’s office, which gets accepted the next day.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam at the Jayalalithaa memorial in Chennai.  

 

February 7, 2017: After a prolonged meditation at Jayalalithaa’s memorial, Mr. Panneerselvam tells journalists that he was compelled to resign from his post and “humiliated while holding the high office.” The same night, Sasikala calls him a “traitor” and expells himfrom the post of party treasurer.

February 8-12, 2017: In the next few days, party leaders and office-bearers switch sides. Some prominent faces join Mr. Panneerselvam, including presidium chairman Madhusudhanan, ‘Mafoi’ Pandiarajana, K.P. Munuswamy, JCD Prabhakaran, and Ponnaiyan. Read more: Who is who in AIADMK camps

February 11, 2017: Madhusudhanan asks the Election Commission to reject Sasikala’s election as party chief. Sasikala expels him from the party post, to which he ‘expels’ Sasikala, claiming he has the rights to do so.

V.K. Sasikala is consoled by a woman on her way to Poes Garden after she left Golden Bay Resorts in Koovathur, on the outskirts of Chennai on Tuesday.   | Photo Credit: PTI

 

February 12, 2017: AIADMK MLAs supporting Sasikala are lodged at Golden Bay Resorts in Koovathur, near Chennai. The move comes after as many as six MLAs pledged support to Mr. Panneerselvam.

February 14, 2017: The Supreme Court convicts Sasikala in the disproportionate assets case. Since it is imminent that she will have to go to jail, Edappadi K. Palaniswami is elected as Leader of Legislative Party. She appoints her nephew TTV Dhinakaran as party's deputy general secretary.

AIADMK general secretary V.K. Sasikala at the Jayalalithaa memorial in Chennai on Wednesday before leaving for Bengaluru to surrender before a special court. According to the party’s official Twitter handle she took a vow to “overcome the conspiracy, treachery and crisis against” her.   | Photo Credit: K.V. Srinivasan

 

February 16, 2017: Mr. Palaniswami is sworn in as Chief Minister, but MLAs continue to stay in the resort. The Cabinet is largely left unchanged with rebel leaders Mr. Panneerselvam and Mr. Pandiarajan not finding a berth.

February 18, 2017: The AIADMK government, led by Chief Minister Palaniswami proves its majority in the Assembly, winning 122 votes in favour and 11 against, following the eviction of DMK MLAs and walkout of Congress and IUML members.

Jayalalithaa’s niece Deepa Jayakumar with her husband at the launch of her party ‘MGR Amma Deepa Peravai’, at her residence in Chennai on February 24, 2017.  

 

February 24, 2017: Jayalalithaa’s neice Deepa Jayakumar takes the political plunge by launching the MGR Amma Deepa Peravai. She also says she will contest in the by-election to R.K. Nagar — Jayalalithaa’s constituency.

March 9, 2017: Election Commission announces that by-election to the R.K. Nagar seat will be held on April 12. Madhusudhanan, TTV Dhinakaran, and Deepa announce that they will contest the bypoll.

March 22, 2017: The Election Commission freezes the AIADMK’s “Two Leaves” symbol, prohibiting its use in the byelection.

March 23, 2017: The Panneerselvam camp is given the name AIADMK (Puratchi Thalaivi Amma) and the ruling faction gets the name AIADMK (Amma). The Election Commission allots electric pole symbol to the former and hat to AIADMK (Amma), while Deepa gets the boat.

Smoking the peace pipe: T.T.V. Dhinakaran says his party is ready to take back those who left it.   | Photo Credit: B_JOTHI RAMALINGAM

 

April 9, 2017: The Election Commission cancels the by-election, based on evidence of large scale bribing of voters by the AIADMK (Amma).

April 17, 2017: Mr. Dhinakaran is booked for allegedly attempting to bribe Election Commission officials to get the ‘Two Leaves’ symbol. The same night, Ministers decide to keep Sasikala’s family away from the party.

April 21, 2017: In the first sign of a possible merger, the factions form panels to begin talks. The Panneerselvam camp sets three pre-conditions: ouster of Sasikala and her family from the party, probe into Jayalalithaa’s death, and conversion of Jayalalithaa’s residence into a public memorial.

April 25, 2017: The pre-condition rules don’t go down well with the ruling faction. The Chief Minister rejects it.

April 26, 2017: Mr. Dhinakaran is arrested for his alleged bid to bribe election commission officials.

June 8, 2017: The rift between Mr. Palaniswami and Mr. Dhinakaran widens. Thirty-two MLAs pledge their support to Mr. Dhinakaran. However, MLAs supporting him say they will not withdraw support to the government.

June 11, 2017: Mr. Panneerselvam officially disbands the panel, which was meant to discuss merger, two months after it was set up. Though each side created a panel comprising seven members each, they never met for talks.

V.C. Arukutty (second right), MLA from the Kavundampalayam constituency in Coimbatore, formally joinrf AIADMK (Amma), in Salem.   | Photo Credit: E. Lakshmi Narayanan

 

July 23, 2017: V.C. Arukutty, Kavundampalayam MLA switches from Panneerselvam camp to the AIADMK (Amma) faction. He was one of the early supporters of Mr. Panneerselvam.

August 4, 2017: Mr. Dhinakaran appoints 64 persons, including 20 MLAs, to different positions in the party. He also announces his plan to tour different parts of the State.

But, Fisheries Minister D. Jayakumar says both the party and the government are functioning under the leadership of Mr. Palaniswami.

August 10, 2017: The AIADMK (Amma) faction “nullifies” Mr. Dhinakaran’s appointments as party deputy general secretary. But Mr. Dhinakran claims only Sasikala can oust him.

August 13, 2017: At a time when the three factions are fighting it out, party mouthpiece Dr. Namadhu MGR republishes a letter written by Sasikala (since jailed) on January 16 this year, appealing for unity. The party organ is under the control of the Sasikala family.

AIADMK (Amma) deputy general secretary T.T.V. Dhinakaran being presented a sceptre at the public meeting to mark MGR birth centenary celebration in Melur near Madurai on Monday.   | Photo Credit: R. Ashok

 

August 14, 2017: At least 20 MLAs and six MPs attend the birth centenary celebrations of MGR, organised by the Dhinakaran-led faction of the AIADMK (Amma), in Melur.

August 16, 2017: Mr. Dhinakaran claims there was no link between the Chief Minister-led government and the party. He goes on to say some Ministers and office-bearers were working to “capture the party through the back door” and asks them to reform themselves.

August 17, 2017: The government announces that an inquiry commission headed by a retired High Court judge would be constituted to probe the death of Jayalalithaa. The Chief Minister also says that ‘Veda Nilayam’, residence of Jayalalithaa in Poes Garden, would be converted into a public memorial.

August 21, 2017: Six months after the AIADMK split into two factions, the Puratchi Thalaivi Amma (PTA) faction, headed by former Chief Minister O. Paneerselvam, and the other, AIADMK (Amma), headed by Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami, formally merge.

Mr. Panneerselvam is made the Deputy Chief Minister. Mr. Pandiarajan also gets a Cabinet berth.

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AIADMK, the story so far

AIADMK merger: Panneerselvam is Deputy CM, gets finance portfolio

AIADMK Puratchi Thalaivi Amma faction leader and former Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam. A file photo.   | Photo Credit: PTI

Mr. Panneerselvam, who thrice held the post of Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, will be sworn-in as Deputy Chief Minister

The two warring factions of AIADMK (Amma) headed by former Chief Minister O. Paneerselvam and AIADMK (PTA) headed by Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami merged on Monday, six months after the party split.

Mr. Panneerselvam, who thrice held the post of Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, was sworn-in as Deputy Chief Minister in the cabinet headed by Mr. Palaniswami at a ceremony to be held at Raj Bhavan this evening.

Mr. Panneerselvam will also hold the plum portfolios of Finance, Housing, Rural Housing, Housing Development, Slum Clearance Board and Accommodation Control, Town Planning, Urban Development, and Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority.

D. Jayakumar, who held the Finance Ministry, will remain the Fisheries Minister of the State, a portfolio he was given before the split in the AIADMK.

'Ma Foi' K. Pandiarajan, who held the School Education portfolio before quitting to join Mr. Panneerselvam, has been given the portfolio of Tamil Official Language and Tamil Culture. These portfolios were earlier held by Sevvoor S. Ramachandran. Mr. Pandiarajan would also hold the Archaeology portfolio.

Udumalai K. Radhakrishnan, who was divested of Housing portfolio, has been given Animal Husbandry, while P. Balakrishna Reddy, who held the post earlier has been given the Youth Welfare and Sports Development ministries.

In addition to Law, C.Ve. Shanmugam would also hold the portfolio of Mines and Minerals hitherto held by Mr. M.C. Sampath, the release from the Governor's Secretary added. The swearing-in is scheduled at 4.30 pm.

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AIADMK, the story so far

In final push for merger, Sasikala may be sidelined on Monday

O. Panneerselvam   | Photo Credit: PTI

Edappadi faction meeting at party headquarters today; all our demands have been met, says senior member of Panneerselvam camp

Efforts to unify the warring AIADMK (PTA) and AIADMK (Amma) camps is likely to get a final push from the latter on Monday with the likely sidelining of jailed “interim” general secretary V.K. Sasikala from the affairs of the ruling party by Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami and his supporters, according to senior members of the O. Panneerselvam camp. Till date, Mr. Palaniswami has not openly hit out at Sasikala, confining his camp’s actions to target only her nephew Mr. T.T.V. Dhinakaran.

Sources in the AIADMK (Amma) separately said that a meeting of senior party functionaries has been called for in the party head office on Monday. “Like the way they held a meeting earlier this month and arrived at the decision to pass a resolution against Mr. Dhinakaran, senior party leaders would hold a meeting,” a source said.

In such an eventuality, Mr. Dhinakaran might also seek to formalise a fresh split in the party forming a rebel group with his supporters.

Leaders in both factions deemed Monday to be an auspicious day as it is a new moon day and apt for taking any good decision.

 

“All issues and demands raised by us have been met,” said a senior leader of the AIADMK (PTA) adding an agreement has been reached on the issue of Sasikala’s continuance as “interim” general secretary of the party.

“We have arrived at a way to tackle the issue (of Sasikala). We have found a way to solve it. This demand too has been almost fulfilled,” he added.

It is understood that once the AIADMK (Amma) decides on the issue of Sasikala’s ouster, they might withdraw the affidavits submitted to the Election Commission expressing their support to her appointment as “interim” general secretary.

Separately, in multiple interactions with the media on Sunday, AIADMK (PTA) founder O Panneerselvam also said that talks on merger were progressing well and “a good conclusion will be reached very soon”.

Another leader of the faction claimed that an announcement on a merger could be expected on Monday.

Meanwhile, after returning from Rajapalayam on Sunday evening after paying tributes to Ondiveeran, Mr. Panneerselvam and other leaders visited a couple of temples in Chennai and offered prayers.

CBI inquiry

The OPS camp, according to sources, has also accepted the judicial inquiry ordered into Jayalalithaa’s death by the Chief Minister. “It is true that we were insisting on a CBI inquiry. But the inquiry by a retired judge is the first step in it. The judge, during the course of his inquiry, can order an investigation by the CBI, which the government will have to then recommend,” the senior leader contended.

Sources have also said that once the merger is complete, the unified AIADMK will convene a meeting and pass necessary resolutions to amend the bylaws of the party. There are plans to amend the bylaws to ensure that a working committee can run the party, with powers of the General Secretary vested with the leader of the working committee. One of the compromise formula offered to the AIADMK (PTA) faction is nominating Mr. Panneerselvam as leader of the working committee.

(With inputs from Dennis S. Jesudasan)

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Talks on merger move a step forward, says Panneerselvam

Former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam paying respect at the freedom fighter Ondiveeran memorial at Nelkattumseval in Tirunelveli District on Sunday.   | Photo Credit: A. Shaikmohideen

Edappadi Palaniswami, too, had said he was confident that “both the factions would merge soon”.

Rebel AIADMK leader O Panneerselvam on Sunday said talks on the merger of factions led by him and Chief Minister K Palaniswami have moved a step forward and a “good” decision would be reached shortly.

“I had informed that the merger talks are already progressing smoothly. It has progressed one more step...A good decision will be attained shortly as desired by you,” he told reporters in Rajapalayam after a meeting with his party functionaries.

On Saturay, Panneerselvam had said that talks on the merger of the factions were going on smoothly and a positive result was expected in a “day or two”.

Mr. Palaniswami, too, had said he was confident that “both the factions would merge soon”.

In Erode, AIADMK Amma faction veteran and Education Minister K.A. Sengottaiyan echoed him.

“It will be good decision and it will happen to the liking of the cadres and people,” he told reporters referring to the ‘positive views’ expressed by both Mr. Panneerselvam and Mr. Palaniswami.

Party sources indicated the merger might fructify on Monday if an agreement was reached on the question of Sasikala’s “formal expulsion,” as demanded by the Panneerselvam faction.

There were also some issues like the role envisaged for top functionaries of Panneerselvam camp including K P Munusamy and E Madhusudanan in the unified party, they said.

The merger talks have gained momentum after Mr. Palaniswami on August 17 announced that a inquiry commission would be set up to probe the death of late chief minister Jayalalithaa and her Poes Garden residence would be converted into a memorial, two of the key demands put forth by Panneerselvam camp.

Though the merger was expected to materialise on Friday night, it did not come through amid reported divergent views among the members of the Panneerselvam faction.

However, Mr. Panneerselvam cleared the air on Saturday, saying a positive result was expected in a day or two.

Mr. Panneerselvam, a former chief minister, had revolted against the leadership of jailed party chief V K Sasikala in February last, causing a split in the party.

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No link between TN Govt and AIADMK, says Dhinakaran

T.T.V. Dhinakaran. File photo   | Photo Credit: B. Jothi Ramalingam

Some Ministers and office-bearers were working to capture the party through back door, says the beleagured leader who was sidelined by the CM Palaniswami’s camp.

Intensifying his fight against the Chief Minister K Palaniswami-led camp, beleaguered AIADMK (Amma) deputy chief T.T.V. Dhinakaran on Wednesday claimed there was no link between the CM-led government and the party.

He alleged that some Ministers and office-bearers were working to “capture the party through the back door” and asked them to reform themselves.

It is true that the incumbent (led by Palaniswami) regime in Tamil Nadu was put in place by party general secretary V.K. Sasikala, he told reporters here to a question on allegations by actor Kamal Haasan against the government.

In the same breath, he added “however, there is no link between the party (AIADMK-Amma) and the government.”

By making this dramatic assertion, the beleaguered leader has taken his fight against the Chief Minister’s camp several notches up, reinforcing his stand that the party and cadres are behind him and that Mr. Palaniswami does not enjoy support of the party rank.

At a time when there are expectations that Palaniswami camp would soon join hands with former chief minister and rebel leader Panneerselvam’s group, Mr. Dhinakaran said only Mr. Palaniswami has to respond to charges against the government.

On Tuesday Mr. Haasan had virtually called for Mr. Palaniswami’s resignation over alleged corruption.

Mr. Dhinakaran said that at a time when allegations were continuously being leveled against the government, those at the helm did not have the courage to face it.

“Hence some ministers and functionaries are working to divert attention. They are also trying to capture the party through the back door,” he said and recalled his view that they should either give it up, or they would be reformed.

Recalling a recent resolution against him, Mr. Dhinakaran said the Palaniswami camp has claimed it to be true and valid.

In its August 10 resolution, the Palaniswami camp had delegitimised Mr. Dhinakaran’s appointment as AIADMK deputy general secretary, sending signals that the CM’s camp would go in for a rapproachement with the Panneerselvam faction.

Giving a veiled threat to nudge the Palaniswami camp to join hands with him, Mr. Dhinkaran said, “They should ponder about these allegations and take the right path, the path laid by Amma and if they do not do that they will for sure face danger (to the government).”

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20 MLAs, six MPs attend Dhinakaran’s rally in Melur

At least 20 MLAs and six MPs attended the birth centenary celebrations of former Chief Minister M.G. Ramachandran, organised by the T.T.V Dhinakaran-led faction of AIADMK (Amma), in Melur on Monday. Speaking to The Hindu, former Higher Education Minister and Pappireddipatti MLA P. Palaniappan confirmed that 20 MLAs, including himself, and six MPs, attended the function.

However, police sources said that there were 21 MLAs and seven MPs.

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Party organ republishes Sasikala’s plea for unity

V.K. Sasikala  

‘Cadre had to be reminded about the need to stay united’

At a time when the three factions of the ruling AIADMK are fighting one another for control of the organisation, the party mouthpiece Dr. Namadhu MGR on Sunday republished a letter written by general secretary V.K. Sasikala (since jailed) on January 16 this year, appealing for unity. The party organ is under the control of the Sasikala family.

“Though our enemies have fallen by the wayside, they are waiting for a crack in the iron fort (AIADMK) so that they can stand with the help of a stick. The AIADMK is the third-largest political movement in the country and we should not allow any attempt to bring down its status,” she had said in her message to cadre in connection with the beginning of the centenary celebrations of party founder MGR.

Asked about the need for republishing the letter, Marudhu Azhagumuthu, the editor of the newspaper, said the objective was to remind the cadre and party functionaries about the importance of staying united.

“The government is organising functions to commemorate MGR’s birth centenary on its own. The first event on behalf of the party (which T.T.V. Dhinakaran would address) will be held at Melur in Madurai on August 14. So, we decided to publish the letter once again,” he said.

While the merger talks between the camps led by Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami and former Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam have failed to make meaningful progress so far, the ruling camp’s decision to distance itself from Mr. Dhinakaran is being seen by political observers as the first concrete step in the reunification exercise.

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AIADMK group to move away from Sasikala

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami.   | Photo Credit: The Hindu

Twenty-seven functionaries of the party, including senior Ministers, attended a high level meeting.

Reaching out to the AIADMK (Puratchi Thalaivi Amma) faction, led by former Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam, Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami’s AIADMK (Amma) faction on Thursday decided to “nullify” T.T.V. Dhinakaran’s appointment as party deputy general secretary.

A resolution adopted at a meeting of the faction said the appointment was made against the party’s by-laws and asked the cadre to ignore Mr. Dhinakran’s directives. Mr. Palaniswami’s camp also indicated that it was keen on distancing itself from the jailed “interim” general secretary V.K. Sasikala.

However, Mr. Dhinakaran questioned the locus standi of Mr. Palaniswami and his supporters in ‘unseating’ him and insisted that he would continue in his post.

Mr. Panneerselvam said he saw this as a “half-way” mark traversed by the ruling faction, and that a merger between the two factions would reflect the wishes of the party’s grassroots workers and the people of Tamil Nadu. The resolution referred to the fact that the appointments of Sasikala and Mr. Dhinakaran were in dispute and had been referred to the Election Commission.

Mr Dhinakaran, who was expelled from the party by Jayalalithaa, had been re-inducted into the party and made deputy general secretary by Sasikala on the day she went to jail.

Attempting to send out a larger message through the resolution, the ruling camp said party workers would not like anyone to occupy the post of “permanent general secretary”— held by Jayalalithaa. It added that the party and the government were being run by “headquarters office-bearers, appointed by Jayalalithaa” under the party rule 20 (V).

The rule permits the office bearers nominated by the general secretary to remain in office, in the event of vacancy in the post of general secretary, till a new general secretary assumes office.

The move from Mr. Palaniswami’s camp appears to have opened fresh channels of communication with the AIADMK (PTA) for negotiating a merger and to isolate Mr Dhinakaran, who is heading the new faction with the deemed support of around 35 MLAs.

The AIADMK (PTA) has made a probe into Jayalalithaa’s death and expulsion of the Sasikala family prerequisites for negotiations on a merger.

Appointments questioned

The resolution, adopted at the Thursday morning, high-level meeting, chaired by Mr. Palaniswami and attended by 26 other party functionaries at the AIADMK head office, termed the recent appointments made by Mr. Dhinakaran to various positions in the party as “not permissible as per the party’s rules and regulations.”

K.A. Sengottaiyan, chairman of the party presidium and Dindigul C. Sreenivasan, treasurer, were among those who attended the meeting but as they have been appointed by Sasikala, they were not signatories to the resolution.

Contending that Mr Dhinakaran’s decisions — aimed at “creating unnecessary confusion” within the party — would not be binding on members of the party, the resolution urged party cadres to reject them.

Mr Dhinakaran had last week announced a list of 64 appointments to different positions in the party, including that of organising secretary. On Wednesday, he announced another round of appointments.

Membership requirement

Turning the heat on the deputy general secretary, the resolution, for the first time, publicly stated that the appointment of Mr. Dhinakaran was against Rule 30 (V), which makes a five-year membership of the party “without any break” a prerequisite for contesting for any post.

In this context, the resolution referred to Mr. Dhinakaran’s expulsion from the primary membership of the party in December 2011 by Jayalalithaa; his readmission on February 14, 2017 (by Sasikala) and his nomination as deputy general secretary the very next day.

Asked by The Hindu whether the resolution meant cutting off ties formally with Mr. Dhinakaran, the Chief Minister merely said “Please refer to the text of the resolution.”

Neither the Chief Minister not other members of his faction at the meeting answered queries from the media.

 

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Edapaddi camp questions Dhinakaran’s appointments

Remembering a leader: Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami speaking at the MGR centenary celebration in Perambalur on Saturday.  

Vetrivel pointed out that affidavits filed by members and functionaries of the party with the EC had mentioned Mr. Dhinakaran as the deputy general secretary.

The action of the deputy general secretary of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (Amma) T.T. V. Dhinakaran appointing a large number of his supporters has evoked, expectedly, a cold reaction from two Ministers of the government headed by Edappadi K. Palaniswami.

Besides, three legislators, nominated by Mr. Dhinakaran to different positions in the party, have decided not to take up the new assignments. While P. Sathya (Panruti) and K. Palani (Sriperumpudur) expressed their unwillingness to take up the positions, A.K. Bose (Tiruparunkundram) said he was unable to take up the post citing health reasons.

Before leaving for New Delhi to attend a meeting of the GST Council, Finance Minister D. Jayakumar described the move by Mr. Dhinakaran as “questionable” when the appointment of V.K. Sasikala as the general secretary had been challenged before the Election Commission (EC) and the matter was still pending with the commission.

Challenging the manner in which the appointments were made, Revenue Minister and secretary of ‘Puratchi Thalaivi Peravai,’ a wing in the party, R.B. Udhayakumar said the move would create confusion among the party workers. It would neither strengthen nor motivate the workers. It had only become a “laughing stock,” he said.

In Chennai, P. Vetrivel, secretary of the North Chennai unit of the party and a known supporter of Mr Dhinakaran, claimed that the appointments were done after consulting other office-bearers. He contended that it was Mr. Dhinakaran who continued to receive communication from the Election Commission regarding the party. Mr. Vetrivel pointed out that affidavits filed by members and functionaries of the party with the EC had mentioned Mr. Dhinakaran as the deputy general secretary.

OPS camp meets

Meanwhile, the AIADMK (Puratchi Thalaivi Amma) chief O. Panneerselvam chaired a meeting with other leaders at his residence to discuss the latest developments. K. P. Munusamy, former Minister, said the two-hour meeting deliberated the approach to be adopted by the party in the light of Mr. Dhinakaran’s appointments.

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Dhinakaran announces new office-bearers, set to tour T.N.

‘64 functionaries, including 20 MLAs, approved by Sasikala’

Ratcheting up the political temperature, T.T.V. Dhinakaran, deputy general secretary of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (Amma), on Friday announced his plan to tour different parts of the State and appointed 64 persons, including 20 MLAs, to different positions in the party.

On Tuesday, D. Jayakumar, Fisheries Minister, said both the party and the government were functioning under the leadership of Mr. Palaniswami. The move was seen as an attempt to sideline Mr. Dhinakaran.

Mr. Dhinakaran’s tour will begin from Melur in Madurai district on August 14 and culminate in Sivaganga on October 5. Asked if he would invite Mr. Palaniswami to attend his programmes, Mr. Dhinakaran answered in the affirmative.

To another query, he said it was the jailed general secretary, V.K. Sasikala, who chose Mr. Palaniswami to head the government.

Among the new appointees were legislators P. Palaniappan, V. Senthil Balaji, “Thoppu” N.D. Venkatachalam and S.T.K. Jakkaiyan (organising secretaries), A.K. Bose (joint secretary, agriculture wing), S. Muthiah (chief, health wing) and K. Kathirkamu (deputy, health wing).

K.P. Krishnan and C. Shanmugavelu, former Ministers, and Sarubala Thondaman, former Tiruchi Mayor, have been made organising secretaries, while Nanjil Sampath is deputy propaganda secretary.

Mr. Dhinakaran said that only the general secretary of the party had the power to appoint someone to a position or remove a person from the given position. Mr. Dhinakaran added that his move had the approval of jailed general secretary V.K. Sasikala. The appointments were made to prepare the party for the Lok Sabha polls to be held in 2019.

He said he “stepped aside” from party work in mid-April following certain observations of some ministers, who, he knew very well even then, would not be able to bring about rapprochement between the AIADMK (Amma) and the AIADMK (Puratchi Thalaivi Amma). He too had been making attempts towards this direction in the last few months, he said.

‘Fear of BJP’

Reiterating that some ministers might have made statements favouring the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) out of fear, he said “Mr. Jayakumar must be suffering from greater fear.”

On the decision to support the BJP nominee Ram Nath Kovind for the presidential election, Mr. Dhinakaran contended that this was done “in the interests of Tamil Nadu” as cooperation with the ruling party at the Centre was required. As for the alliance with the BJP for the Lok Sabha elections, he said it was “premature” to talk about it.

Despite several attempts to contact him, Mr. Jayakumar was not available for comment. Dindigul C. Sreenivasan, Forests Minister and treasurer of the party, said he heard the development only from the media and he required time to react.

Another minister, speaking on the condition of anonymity, wondered why Mr. Dhinakaran appointed only 64 persons. “Is he able to muster only 20 MLAs?” the Minister asked.

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Arukutty now in Edappadi camp

Claims he took the decision in keeping with the wishes of the voters in his constituency

V.C. Arukutty, the MLA representing the Kavundampalayam constituency in Coimbatore district, who on Friday quit the AIADMK (Puratchi Thalaivi Amma) faction led by former Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam, formally joined the ruling AIADMK (Amma) here on Sunday, in the presence of Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami. With this, the number of MLAs supporting Mr. Panneerselvam has reduced to 10, as Mylapore MLA R. Nataraj, who voted against the Palaniswami government in February, has not associated himself with the AIADMK (PTA).

The two-time MLA called on the Chief Minister at the latter’s residence in Highways Colony in Salem, and formally joined the ruling faction of the AIADMK. Local Administration Minister S.P. Velumani and Deputy Speaker of the Assembly Pollachi V. Jayaraman — both hailing from Coimbatore district — were present at the occasion.

Addressing mediapersons, Mr. Arukutty claimed that he joined AIADMK (Amma) in deference to the wishes of the voters in his constituency, whom he had been consulting over the past few days.

According to him, he had previously submitted a memorandum to then Chief Minister Jayalalithaa, seeking various development projects for his constituency. Despite his siding with the OPS faction until recently, Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami had sanctioned various projects, including a power sub-station, police station and funds to the tune of ₹2 crore for bridge work in his constituency, he said.

The voters, he claimed, wanted him to be part of the ruling faction in order to secure more development projects for his constituency. “My constituency and its voters are my priority, and hence, I have joined the ruling faction,” he said.

Mr. Arukutty reiterated that he had been sidelined from the Panneerselvam camp ever since he thanked the Chief Minister for sanctioning projects for his constituency while speaking in the Assembly, and that his pleas to the leadership of AIADMK (PTA) in this regard had fallen on deaf ears.

He replied in the negative when asked whether he was given any assurances in return for switching sides.

The party cadre want both the factions to merge, he said, adding that he would work towards this goal. “A free and frank talk between Mr. Palaniswami and Mr. Panneerselvam will help solve the present crisis in the party. I will seek to persuade the Chief Minister on this aspect,” he said. “The Palaniswami-led government is performing exceedingly well and has earned accolades even from opposition parties,” he said.

When asked whether he will continue to oppose jailed party leader V.K. Sasikala, Mr. Arukutty replied that she, along with her family members, had already been sidelined from the party. “The Chief Minister will take decisions regarding party affairs and we will abide by them,” he added.

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Panneerselvam disbands AIADMK merger panel

Former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam.  

AIADMK (Puratchi Thalaivi Amma) leader O. Panneerselvam on Sunday night announced the disbanding of the seven-member committee formed to negotiate terms of a merger with the ruling AIADMK (Amma) signalling a breakdown in efforts to unify the warring groups.

Incidentally, though both AIADMK (PTA) and AIADMK (Amma) had constituted a panel each comprising seven members in April this year to work towards unification, the committees had never met formally. While former minister K.P. Munusamy headed the panel formed by the AIADMK (PTA), ex-minister Vaithilingam was the chairman of the AIADMK (Amma) panel.

Mr Panneerselvam’s announcement at a party meeting in Thiruverkadu near here, came a day after M. Natarajan, husband of jailed AIADMK (Amma) leader V.K. Sasikala, claimed that the two factions could even merge within a week. However, Mr Natarajan had queered the pitch by insisting that no conditions should be placed by either faction for the merger, indicating that Sasikala’s appointment as general secretary should not be called into question.

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‘Edappadi should come clean on links with Sasikala family’

Belligerent mood: AIADMK (PTA) leader O. Panneerselvam addressing a meeting in Ramanathapuram.   | Photo Credit: L. Balachandar

Panneerselvam also alleges secret pact between CM, Stalin

Accusing the AIADMK ministers of misleading party cadre by making false statements on the merger issue, AIADMK (Puratchi Thalaivi Amma) leader and former Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam has dared Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami to make it clear whether he would sever links with Sasikala and her kin.

“Mr. Edappadi Palanisamy, not others, should categorically state whether he would sever his links with Sasikala and her family,” Mr. Panneerselvam said, indicating that he two factions could merge only if they severed all ties with Sasikala, Mr. Dinakaran and other family members.

Addressing party workers here on Sunday, the former Chief Minister said the Edappadi group was enacting an ‘act of deceit’ on the merger issue and that was why he had announced the disbanding of the committee formed to hold talks on the merger.

Even after he ruled out a merger, some Ministers were deliberately making false statements that talks were going on between the two camps to confuse and mislead the party cadre and the people of the State, he said. “Their evil designs would soon be defeated and the day is not far off when puratchi thalaivi amma’s rule would flourish in the State,” he said.

Mr. Panneerselvam also alleged that the Edappadi government had entered into a secret pact with the leader of the opposition M.K. Stalin. This was evident when Mr. Stalin, after raising the issue of the Election Commission seeking registration of an FIR against the Chief Minister and others for the alleged electoral malpractices during the R.K. Nagar byelection based on material unearthed during an I-T raid, soft-pedalled the issue after Mr. Palaniswami’s interruption.

After Mr. Palaniswami said one could not take cognisance of something written on a piece of paper (referring to the paper seized during the I-T raid about distribution of cash for votes during the R.K. Nagar byelection), Mr. Stalin conveniently switched over to some other issue, instead of taking on the Chief Minister, he said.

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Dhinakaran camp continues to chip away at Edappadi camp

T.T.V. Dhinakaran  

Rajenthra Bhalaji declares support for Sasikala; rebel groups say government will not fall

As the rift between AIADMK (Amma) deputy general secretary T.T.V. Dhinakaran and Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami widened, five more legislators met Mr. Dhinakaran at his residence and expressed solidarity with him, taking the number of MLAs supporting him to 32.

Significantly, Dairy Development Minister K.T. Rajenthra Bhalaji went on record saying there was nothing wrong in legislators meeting Mr. Dhinakaran. Responding to questions from journalists, he said, “There is nothing wrong in our MLAs calling on Mr. Dhinakaran, who is the deputy general secretary of the party.” Asked who the party’s leader was, he responded, “only Chinnamma [jailed general secretary V.K. Sasikala].”

Mr. Bhalaji’s stand was in contrast to the earlier appeal made by his senior Cabinet colleague and Finance Minister D Jayakumar to party cadres not to have any association with the “sidelined” deputy general secretary or his family members.

Mr. Jayakumar made the appeal after a meeting of around 20 Ministers and senior party functionaries chaired by him unanimously decided to reiterate their opposition to Mr. Dhinakaran or his associates playing any active role in the party or the government.

 

However, MLAs supporting Mr. Dhinakaran said they would not withdraw support to Mr. Palaniswami’s government. Likewise, Mr. O Panneerselvam, leader of the AIADMK (PTA), said his party would not be responsible for the fall of the government.

Tiruparankundram MLA A.K. Bose, who called on Mr. Dhinakaran, hit out at Ministers for seeking to sideline the latter. “The Ministers don’t have any right to talk about party affairs. They can only talk about their respective departments. Only the general secretary has the authority to talk about party affairs,” he said after meeting Mr. Dhinakaran.

Electricity Minister P. Thangamani told The Hindu that despite 32 MLAs extending support to Mr. Dhinakaran “there is no threat to the government”.

Meanwhile, the Cabinet is scheduled to meet at 3 p.m. on Thursday ahead of the start of the Assembly session on June 14. Observers say the fissures in the AIADMK may well play out on the floor of the legislature.

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Money laundering case against Dhinakaran

AIADMK (Amma) leader TTV Dhinakaran has been sent to judicial custody at Tihar Jail till May 15.   | Photo Credit: Shiv Kumar Pushpakar

The Enforcement Directorate has registered a money laundering case against AIADMK (Amma) leader T.T.V. Dhinakaran and his associates, based on an FIR registered by the Delhi police in connection with the Election Commission bribery case. He is currently in judicial custody. 

The police probe is into the alleged conspiracy for bribing a senior EC official to get the AIADMK’s “Two Leaves” election symbol for Mr. Dhinakaran’s faction for the R.K. Nagar Assembly byelection in Chennai. 

The poll body had later cancelled the election based on evidence that huge sums of cash and gifts had been distributed to influence voters. 

The police have arrested Mr. Dhinakaran, his associate Mallikarjuna, alleged middleman Sukesh Chandrasekhar and “hawala operator” Naresh. 

They claim to have established the link between him and Chandrasekhar based on phone records. Three more persons are under the scanner. 

Money trail 

On its part, the ED will pursue the money trail as it is alleged that the first instalment of ₹10 crore had already been paid to Chandrasekhar for the ₹50-crore deal. The police have so far recovered ₹1.3 crore in cash that was transported from Chennai to Delhi by cars, it is alleged. 

Mr. Dhinakaran was arrested here on April 25 after several rounds of questioning. 

He was also taken to Chennai for reconstruction of the sequence of events and recoveries.

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T.T.V. Dhinakaran arrested for bid to bribe poll panel

In the net: T.T.V. Dhinakaran arrives for questioning at the Inter State Cell Crime Branch office, in New Delhi on Monday.   | Photo Credit: Shiv Kumar Pushpakar

Along with Mr. Dhinakaran, his close friend Mallikarjuna was taken into custody

The Delhi police Crime Branch late on Tuesday arrested AIADMK (Amma) deputy general secretary T.T.V. Dhinakaran in connection with an alleged attempt to bribe Election Commission officials to secure the ‘two leaves’ symbol for his faction.

He was said to have made the attempt through middleman Sukesh Chandrashekhar, who was arrested last week. Along with Mr. Dhinakaran, his close friend Mallikarjuna was taken into custody. Speaking to The Hindu, Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime) Praveer Ranjan confirmed the two arrests. While Mr. Dhinakaran is accused of roping in Mr. Chandrashekhar for the bribery attempt, the role of Mr. Mallikarjuna is not known yet, though sources claimed it was for facilitating the deal. The arrest of Mr. Dhinakaran follows four days of questioning, during which the police claimed to have gathered a lot of information and confronted the two accused. Mr. Mallikarjuna and Mr. Dhinakaran’s personal assistant Janarthana were asked to join the investigations on Tuesday.

Officers said Mr. Janarthana would be used as a witness because the fresh arrests were made only on his testimony. Both he and Mr. Dhinakaran were being questioned at the Inter State Cell office of the Crime Branch in Chanakyapuri.

Earlier, the Delhi police said they had been told by Shah Faisal, a hawala operator, that he had handed over money to Mr. Chandrashekhar for the bribery attempt.

Faisal told the police that he had been instructed to collect a parcel containing the money from a person in Chennai. He also had been allegedly told to hand over the parcel to Mr. Chandrashekhar.

The Delhi Police Crime Branch said Faisal’s statement can be a crucial link in unearthing the money trail. The amount in the parcel is said to be ₹10 crore, a part of which (₹1.3 crore) was purportedly seized from Mr. Chandrashekhar at the time of his arrest.

Another hawala operator whose name has cropped up during investigations is one Gopi. According to the police, during the hawala transaction the accused had used Gopi’s mobile phone to speak to Faisal and others. Gopi so far has not joined the investigations, but is likely to do so in the coming days as a notice has been sent to him. To confront him with the accused duo and make more recoveries, the police requested an extension of Mr. Chandrashekhar’s custody which was granted by the Tis Hazari court.

Court chides police

Earlier in the day a special court asked the Delhi Police why no action had so far been taken against Mr. Dhinakaran when there were allegations that he attempted to bribe the EC.

“The whole allegations are against him. Show me the call details where it shows Sukesh Chandrashekar [under arrest] talked to Dhinakaran,” special judge Poonam Chaudhry told the city police. She made these observations while extending the police remand of Mr. Chandrashekhar by three days.

The judge directed the police to show the call details which proved that Mr. Chandrashekhar was in touch with the politician.

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Edappadi camp rejects OPS faction’s preconditions for merger

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami and his predecessor O. Panneerselvam at the AIADMK headquarters in Chennai on February 5, 2017, two days before the latter’s revolt against V.K. Sasikala.   | Photo Credit: Jothi Ramalingam

Accuses members of the Panneerselvam faction of raking up issues to put a spoke in the way of talks

Rejecting the preconditions set by AIADMK (Puratchi Thalaivi Amma) for engaging in talks for a proposed merger , the ruling AIADMK (Amma) faction has insisted that the former should agree to sit across the table for discussions without any preconditions.

Addressing mediapersons, senior leader R. Vaithilingam, who is heading the AIADMK (Amma) negotiation committee, said, “They [OPS faction] have set preconditions. There is no dispute to which solutions cannot be found through talks. We are calling upon them to come forward for talks through you [media].”

Even as he referred to the initial statement made by former Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam that his faction was ready for talks without any precondition, Mr. Vaithilingam said, “They are trying to find issues to put a spoke in the way of talks. They are giving contradictory opinions.”

Probe into Jaya’s death

As for the demands, he said Mr. Panneerselvam could have constituted an inquiry commission to probe the death of Jayalalithaa when he was the Chief Minister. However, the AIADMK organising secretary said that the government was prepared to order a CBI probe if ordered by the Madras HC. The dispute over appointment of general secretary was pending before the Election Commission, Mr. Vaithilingam added.

AnotherAIADMK (Amma) leader told The Hindu, “Our party bylaws don’t allow the expulsion of the general secretary (Sasikala). Only the general secretary can expel others. When their demand does not have legal sanctity, how can it be done?” As for the demand for a CBI probe into Jayalalithaa’s death, he said, “If we are in power and order a CBI probe into the death of our own leader, how will it look? It would be like accepting that our own government and the police cannot be trusted and hence we are giving the task to CBI. Again, this is unacceptable.”

Meanwhile, a meeting of the District Secretaries of AIADMK (Amma) will be held from tomorrow.

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OPS camp talks tough, sets preconditions for merger

O. Panneerselvam SHIV KUMAR PUSHPAKAR  

Says 30 members of Sasikala clan too should be evicted from party

A combative AIADMK (Puratchi Thalaivi Amma) camp hardened its stand insisting that the eviction of Sasikala, T.T.V. Dhinakaran and almost 30 other family members from the party was essential for the merger talks to begin.

The faction also insisted that a CBI inquiry be instituted into the death of Jayalalithaa and that Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami should make such a recommendation to the Centre.

These were the two main demands laid out by the AIADMK (PTA) to proceed with talks with the AIADMK (Amma) party.

The Hindu had reported on Thursday that the AIADMK (PTA) camp was keen on the formal resignation of Sasikala and Dhinakaran from their party posts before the talks could begin.

“All the leaders in that camp (AIADMK (Amma)) should withdraw their affidavits accepting Sasikala and Dhinakaran as interim general secretary and deputy general secretary, filed before the Election Commission,” former minister K.P. Munusamy told a press conference on Thursday.

“They should also issue a statement that everyone related to Sasikala in her family, about 30 of them, will be thrown out of the party and that their memberships will be cancelled; and they should ask AIADMK cadre not have any truck with them,” Mr. Munusamy said.

He also rubbished claims that the AIADMK (PTA) was insisting that Mr. Panneerselvam be made the Chief Minister. “Mr. Thambi Durai is making statements that Mr. Palaniswami will continue as CM without any provocation,” he said.

 

Lashes out at CM, FM

Mr. Munusamy also lashed out at the Chief Minister, and Finance Minister D. Jayakumar. “Jayakumar is speaking like a political novice. He is making immature statements. Edappadi is not Tamil Nadu’s Chief Minister. He was appointed by Sasiakala and is Sasikala’s Chief Minister,” he charged.

Mr. Munusamy alleged that Sasikala was using the 122 MLAs and the Ministers in the government to oust Mr. Dhinakaran. “There are so many cases against Dhinakaran and Sasikala is trying to throw him out using the Ministers,” he said. “This Cabinet and Edappadi [Palaniswami] should not be involved in this efforts by the Sasikala family to backstab the cadre”.

Claiming that there was a vacuum in Tamil Nadu politics, he said Mr. Panneerselvam was emerging as a leader of the people and the cadre. “People are ready to vote for OPS,” he said, adding that if the election to the post of general secretary was held, lakhs of cadre would field Mr. Panneerselvam and ensure his victory.

 

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T.T.V. Dhinakaran charged with bid to bribe poll panel

T.T.V. Dhinakaran during a poll campaign in Chennai. File photo  

‘Middleman’ entrusted with securing AIADMK’s ‘two leaves’ symbol held in hotel

AIADMK (Amma) deputy general secretary T.T.V. Dhinakaran has been booked for allegedly trying to bribe the Election Commission of India (ECI) for obtaining the party symbol (two leaves) for his faction, the police said on Monday.

The development comes after the arrest of an alleged middleman from a five-star hotel in South Delhi even as Mr. Dhinakaran claimed that he had no knowledge of the ‘broker’ and he had come to know about his arrest only through media reports.

 

The FIR has been registered by the Inter-State Cell of the Delhi police Crime Branch.

DCP (Crime) Madhur Verma said Mr. Dhinakaran’s name cropped up after the arrest of Sukesh Chandra- sekhar from Hyatt hotel on Sunday night. Sukesh has a criminal record and similar cases against him in Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai.

Based on Sukesh’s purported disclosure, Mr. Verma also said that it was he who approached Mr. Dhinakaran and assured him that he could get the frozen symbol for his faction.

“He told Mr. Dhinakaran that he would influence the Election Commission to obtain a favourable order for them for ₹50 crore,” said Mr. Verma. It is not clear how much money was actually paid and how the transactions were made.

Two cars seized

However, at least ₹1.3 crore and two high-end cars have been recovered from Sukesh, the police said. It is alleged he was planning to use the money to bribe EC officials. “He told us that Dhinakaran was in direct touch with him. Dhinakaran is currently in Tamil Nadu and summons will be sent to him to join the probe. We have evidence that the money belongs to his faction of the party,” said another police officer.

In Chennai, Mr. Dhinakaran told the media: “I do not know anyone by that name [Sukesh Chandras- ekhar]. I did not talk to anyone regarding this [matter pending before the Election Commission on the freezing of “two leaves” symbol].”

He maintained that he would face the issue “legally” if summons were issued by the Delhi police.

Mr. Dhinakaran was a candidate for the April 12 by-election (cancelled later) to the R.K. Nagar Assembly constituency which had fallen vacant after the death of former Chief Minister Jayalalithaa.

The Election Commission had last month allotted new names and symbols to the V.K. Sasikala and O. Panneerselvam factions of the AIADMK after freezing the party symbol and name ahead of the R.K. Nagar by-election in Chennai.

The police remained tight-lipped on whether the name(s) of any ECI official had also come up during the questioning of Sukesh.

Mr. Verma did not comment when asked if Mr. Dhinakaran will be summoned or arrested in connection with the case.

Mr. Dhinakaran and Sukesh have been booked under Section 8 of the Prevention of Corruption Act (taking gratification, in order, by corrupt or illegal means, to influence public servant) and Sections 170 (impersonating as a public servant) and 120 B (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code. On slapping Section 170, IPC, another officer said that he had posed as an MP without commenting on whether he had approached any ECI official by claiming that he was one.

Sukesh was later remanded in eight-day police custody by a local court.

After meeting the media, Mr. Dhinakaran left for Bengaluru to visit his aunt and jailed general secretary of the AIADMK (Amma) V.K. Sasikala.

Asked whether there were motives behind the filing of a case, he replied that when a person, “unknown” to him, referred to his name, there “could be” some reason. He also complained that “efforts are on to destroy our organisation politically” and such kind of information was being spread.

Reacting to the demand of the Pattali Makkal Katchi founder S. Ramadoss that the present government be dismissed, O.S. Manian, a senior leader and secretary of the Nagapattinam district unit, said Dr. Ramadoss was desperate to have his son, Anbumani, installed as Chief Minister.

(With inputs from Tamil Nadu Bureau)

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EC cancels RK Nagar bypoll

Police disburse crowd at the RK Nagar Assembly constituency in Chennai on Sunday, following a clash between two groups during the campaign.   | Photo Credit: B. Jothi Ramalingam

The nodal officer appointed in Chennai submitted a detailed report to the Commission on Sunday.

The Election Commission, late on Sunday night, cancelled the by-election to the Dr. Radhakrishnan Nagar Assembly constituency in Chennai, based on evidence of large scale bribing of voters by the ruling AIADMK (Amma) among other parties and candidates.

The apex poll body particularly highlighted the alleged role of Tamil Nadu Health Minister C. Vijaya Baskar, whose house and premises were searched by the Income-Tax Department on Friday last, in vitiating the electoral process.

 

“The Income-Tax authorities have also informed that several complaints were received recently indicating that Dr. Vijaya Baskar is the main person involved in bribing the voters in R.K. Nagar Assembly constituency which was to go to the polls on 12th April, 2017. Some loose sheets were found with his accountant Mr. Srinivasan indicating distribution of ₹89 crore to a number of politicians for further distribution among the voters,” the Election Commission’s order signed by Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi and Election Commissioners O.P. Rawat and A.K. Jothi said.

Cash of ₹5 crore was seized from the associates of Dr. Vijaya Baskar and from his native place. “Incriminating documents in the form of overall money distribution charts to several leading political executives and functionaries totaling to ₹89 crore were found from the premises of Dr. Vijaya Baskar.

Further distribution charts, ward-wise and voter-wise, entrusted to each of these politician totaling to Rs. 89 crores were found and seized from the room allotted to Dr. Vijaya Baskar in the MLAs’ hostel. Further, a lot of incriminating material including voters list marking against each voter either DMK or AIADMK and amount to be paid and paid in some cases, were also found and seized,” the order noted.

Holding the entire process of the election null and void, the EC said the byelection would be held by the Commission in due course when "the vitiating effect created by the distribution of money and gift items to allure the electors... gets removed with the passage of time and the atmosphere in the constituency becomes conducive to the holding of free and fair election.”

As the Model Code of Conduct is already in place, the enforcement agencies directly report to the EC on seizures and findings which may have a bearing on free and fair conduct of the coming election.

Accordingly, the nodal officer appointed in Chennai submitted a detailed report to the Commission on Sunday.

The Chief Election Commissioner, Nasim Zaidi, and other senior EC officials examined the report and following legal consultations, decided to cancel the byelection.

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Key candidates in R.K. Nagar by-election

(From bottom left). BJP nominee Gangai Amaran, AIADMK Amma candidate T.T.V. Dinakaran, AIADMK Puratchithalaivi Amma nominee E. Madhusudhanan after filing their nominations in Chennai on Thursday. (bottom right) J. Deepa at the Jayalailthaa memorial before filing her nomination.   | Photo Credit: Bijoy Ghosh, M. Vedhan

Dr. Radhakrishnan Nagar, the high-profile constituency in north Chennai that elected former Chief Minister Jayalalithaa twice, is all set to once again choose its legislative representative on April 12.

A total of 62 candidates, including eight women, are in the fray in the by-election. The AIADMK has won seven out of 11 times in the constituency in the last 40 years. This time, three candidates are are claiming to be the ‘real face of the AIADMK.’

T.T.V. Dinakaran

AIADMK Amma candidate T.T.V.Dinakaran campaigns at the R.K. Nagar Assemblyconstituency in Chennai on Monday.   | Photo Credit: V. Ganesan

 

When AIADMK’s interim general secretary V.K. Sasikala was convicted in the disproportionate assets case and lodged in a Bengaluru prison, she handed over the reigns of the party to her nephew and former parliamentarian T.T.V. Dinakaran by appointing him as the deputy general secretary of the party.

The 54-year-old leader represented the Periyakulam Lok Sabha constituency in 1999 and was a Rajya Sabha member between 2004 and 2010. Jayalalithaa had expelled him and his relatives after the party was defeated in the 2006 Assembly elections. Sasikala took him back into the party fold after her conviction.

The Election Commission has allotted the ‘Hat’ symbol to him and he will be contesting under the party name ‘AIADMK Amma’ after the ‘Two Leaves’ symbol was frozen since both the Sasikala camp and the O.Panneerselvam camp were claiming it.

Also read: A hat, an electric pole and a party with an identity crisis

Political analysts say a win for Mr. Dinakaran would assert his position in the party and he could even claim the chief minister’s post. But Mr. Dinakaran had said that Edappadi K. Palaniswami will continue to head the government.

The fate of both Sasikala and Mr. Dinakaran’s party posts will be decided by the Election Commission as the rival AIADMK camp has claimed that the appointments are not in line with the party’s constitution. The Enforcement Directorate has imposed a ₹28crore fine on Mr. Dinakaran for money laundering. He is also facing two 20-year-old FERA cases for acquiring foreign exchange from unauthorised dealers.

E. Madhusudhanan

AIADMK Puratchithalaivi Amma nominee E. Madhusudhanan campaigns at Kothandaraman Street, Tondiarpet, on Friday.   | Photo Credit: R. Ragu

 

An AIADMK veteran, E. Madhusudhanan was the party’s presidium chairman. He has contested in R.K. Nagar four times and represented the constituency in the Assembly during 1991-96, the first tenure of Jayalalithaa as Chief Minister.

Mr. Madhusudhanan was convicted and later acquitted in a free dhoti-saree scam during his term as Handloom Minister. He has some 19 criminal cases pending against him, which he claims were politically motivated.

When Mr. Madhusudhanan switched to former Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam’s side,Sasikala dismissed him from the party. Maintaining that he is still the party’s presidium chairman, Mr. Madhusudhanan ‘expelled’ Sasikala.

Mr. Madhusudhanan is a strong Jayalalithaa loyalist and stayed with her when the AIADMK split into Jaya and Janaki factions in 1989. He has been associated with the AIADMK since the party was formed and is a North Chennai strongman.

He is contesting using the ‘Electric Pole’ symbol under party name ‘AIADMK Puratchi Thalaivi Amma’.

Marudhu Ganesh

DMK candidate N. Marudhu Ganesh, campaigns at Kuyil Kuppam, Old Washermenpet, on Saturday. Photo: M. Vedhan  

 

The DMK has fielded N. Marudhu Ganesh as its party’s candidate. A journalist-turned-politician, Mr. Ganesh is the party’s area secretary of R.K Nagar (East) unit and belongs to a family of DMK cardholders.

Mr. Ganesh’s mother, Parvathi Narayanasamy, was a councillor between 1996 and 2001 when DMK working president M.K. Stalin was the Mayor of the Chennai Corporation.

Though his family is from Madurai, Mr. Ganesh was born and brought up in Chennai and graduated from the Sir Theagaraya College in New Washermenpet. Later, he studied Law at the Venkateswara Law College in Tirupati.

Mr. Ganesh hopes that his introduction to the local people as a Dinakaran journalist will work in his favour.

R. Loganathan

R. Loganathan is the CPI(M)’s candidate. But the CPI and the VCK, alliance partners of the People’s Welfare Front, have declined to support his candidature.

Mr. Loganathan is a member of the party’s North Chennai district Executive Committee. The party is banking on the sizeable working class population in the constituency.

Gangai Amaran

Director-turned-music director Gangai Amaran is the BJP’s candidate for the bypoll. The younger brother of legendary music composer Ilayaraaja has directed as many as 19 movies and has composed music for over 50 movies.

He joined the BJP in 2014 and is currently the president of the State unit’s cultural cell.

Gangai Amaran had accused Sasikala of forcing him to sell his 22-acre farm at Payyanurin 1994. He was one of the prosecution witnesses in the disproportionate assets case.

The BJP is betting on Mr. Amaran’s popularity and caste. The constituency has a significant number of Dalits, and the BJP hopes they would vote for Mr. Amaran.

P. Mathivanan

P. Mathivanan is DMDK’s North Chennai District Secretary. He lost to Mr. M.K. Stalin in the 2016 Assembly elections. As a resident of Kodungaiyur,he  is pinning hopes on voters to elect a ‘local person.’

Kalaikottudhayam

Film director-turned-politician Seeman’s Naam Thamizhar Katchi has fielded Kalaikottudhayam as its candidate. Kalaikottudhayam runs a Tamil news channel called Tamizhan TV and has produced a few movies.

J. Deepa

J. Deepa, niece of former Chief Minister Jayalalithaa and founder of MGR Amma Deepa Peravai, fies her nomination for the by-election to the R.K.Nagar constituency in Chennai, on Thursday. Photo: Bijoy Ghosh  

 

Jayalalithaa’s niece J. Deepa is also contesting the bypoll as an independent. She has been alloted the ''boat'' symbol. Ms. Deepa rose to fame after the death of Jayalalithaa. She claims to be the “rightful successor of Jayalalithaa” and had managed to gain support from a section of AIADMK followers.

A staunch opposer of Sasikala and her family, Ms. Deepa floated a political outfit called MGR Amma Deepa Peravai on Jayalalithaa’s birthday last month, putting an end to rumours that she will join hands with the Panneerselvam camp.

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Sasikala faction is 'AIADMK Amma' and OPS' 'AIADMK Puratchi Thalaivi Amma'

T.T.V. Dhinakaran before filing his nomination in Chennai.   | Photo Credit: M. Vedhan

Sasikala camp allotted 'Hat' and OPS' 'Electricity Pole' as symbols for R.K. Nagar by-election

A day after the Election Commission froze the AIADMK party symbol for the R.K. Nagar by-poll in Chennai scheduled for April 12, the electoral body on Thursday allotted new names and symbols to the V.K Sasikala and O. Panneerselvam factions.

As directed by the EC, the rival groups submitted their proposals for new names and symbols on Thursday morning. The Sasikala camp requested the name “All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (Amma)” and the “Hat” as its election symbol.

The Panneerselvam group requested “All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (Puratchi Thalaivi Amma) and the “Electric Pole” as its symbol.

The Commission then issued directions allotting the respective names and the symbols to the two groups.

Armed with the EC order, Mr Dhinakaran, sporting a hat, filed his nomination for the byelection. “I will definitely win in the by-election by a victory margin of several thousand votes,” he told journalists and reiterated that the AIADMK (Amma) would eventually be identified as the real AIADMK and retrieve the ‘Two Leaves’ symbol.

 

Mr Madhusudhanan, who filed his nomination as the AIADMK (Puratchi Thalaivi Amma) candidate, said, “People of R.K. Nagar constituency love O. Panneerselvam and me. They see him as a righteous and simple man. Since I am contesting as his candidate, I definitely have the chances to emerge victorious.”

Mr Madshusdhanan was elected from the constituency in 1991.

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EC freezes 'two leaves' for R.K. Nagar bypoll

MPs belonging to the Sasikala faction leaving the Election Commission on Wednesday.   | Photo Credit: Shanker Chakravarty

Recognises split in party, bars use of ‘AIADMK’ till final order

The Election Commission on Wednesday froze the AIADMK’s “Two Leaves” symbol, prohibiting its use in the coming R.K. Nagar byelection in Chennai.

The decision came after the EC heard the rival factions of O. Panneerselvam and V.K. Sasikala, who had staked their claim to the symbol. Pending a final resolution of the dispute, the factions have also been barred from using the party’s name in the bypoll.

Observing that a deeper examination of the issue was required and that the more than 20,000 pages of evidence would have to be examined, the EC, in its interim order, said any hasty decision during the nomination process for the byelection might lead to an erroneous conclusion, preju- dicially impacting the rights of either or both the sides.

The EC, which recognised that there was a split in the party, said pending the final settlement of the dispute, neither group was permitted to use the name ‘All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam.’ Also, they cannot use the party symbol for the bypoll on April 12.

“Both the groups shall be known by such names as they may choose for their respective groups, showing, if they so desire, linkage with their parent party ... and both the groups shall also be allotted different symbols as they may choose from the list of free symbols notified by the Election Commission for the purpose of the byelection,” said the order.

‘New names today’

Accordingly, the EC directed both factions to furnish names of their groups by 10 a.m. on Thursday.

They have also been instructed to suggest three options each for possible election symbols.

The factions have been allowed a final opportunity of adducing all other documents and affidavits by April 17 for the final settlement of the dispute.

During the hearing on Wednesday, the Sasikala faction contended that there was no split in the party, and it was only a matter of internal dissent. “However, the Commission is satisfied, based on documents filed and oral submissions made by the learned counsels of both the parties, that there are two rival groups in the party, led by E. Madhusudhanan and V.K. Sasikala,” said the EC order.

Although the Panneerselvam camp also challenged the appointment of Sasikala as the party’s interim general secretary, the EC restricted the proceedings to the allotment of the symbol.

 

Describing the ruling as “unexpected,” T.T.V. Dhinakaran, deputy general secretary of the faction led by Sasikala, said late on Wednesday that they would either move the Madras High Court or the Supreme Court to challenge it.

The faction, represented by lawyers C.S. Vaidyanathan and Guru Krishna Kumar, contended that Sasikala had been convicted in a disproportionate assets case and, therefore, she could not contest elections. Since her appointment had been disputed, they argued, she should not be allowed to nominate her nephew T.T.V. Dinakaran as the party candidate.

Notably, the Commission has not recognised Mr. Dinakaran as the party office bearer, as his name is not there in list submitted to the electoral body.

‘Sasikala not eligible’

“A person calls herself the general secretary. She is not eligible to contest, she is not eligible to be an election agent and she is not even eligible to be a voter. How can she give Form ‘B’ [authorisation for nomination of a candidate] to contest on behalf of the party? This was our argument before the Commission. When she is not eligible to allot the symbol, we are the original owners…,” AIADMK Rajya Sabha MP V. Maitreyan of the Panneerselvam faction had said after the hearing concluded.

 

On behalf the Sasikala camp, lawyers Salman Khurshid, Veerappa Moily, Mohan Parasaran and Aryama Sundaram, relied upon the test of majority as upheld by the Supreme Court in case of a split in the party as per Para 15 of the Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order.

The Election Commission had taken recourse to the same test to decide the Samajwadi Party symbol dispute in favour of Akhilesh Yadav.

“We opposed the very maintainability of the petition. We pointed out that it was not even a case where they had a majority of legislators [supporting them]. The majority of legislators, the Chief Minister, the Cabinet, parliamentarians and the general counsel were with us. As there was no case for claim of majority, they would not have the right at all to claim for the allotment of the symbol to them. So, there is no question of stopping us from using the symbol,” said Mr. Sundaram.

Excerpts from the Election Commission order

(a) Neither of the two groups led by the petitioners (Shri E. Madhusudhanan, Shri O Panneerselvam and Shri S. Semmalai) and the respondents (Smt. V.K. Sasikala and Shri TTV Dhinakaran) shall be permitted to use the name of the party ‘All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam’ simplicitor;

(b) Neither of the aforesaid two groups shall also be permitted to use the symbol ‘Two Leaves’, reserved for ‘All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam’;

(c) Both the groups shall be known by such names as they may choose for their respective groups, showing, if they so desire, linkage with their parent party ‘All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam’; and

(d) Both the groups shall also be allotted such different symbols as they may choose from the list of free symbols notified by the Election Commission for the purposes of the current bye-election

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Deepa launches party

Announces decision to contest from R.K. Nagar constituency

On the occasion of the 69th birth anniversary of former Chief Minister Jayalalithaa on Friday, her niece Deepa Jayakumar took the political plunge by launching the MGR Amma Deepa Peravai and unveiling the outfit’s flag – a black and red flag with a white circle with the image of MGR handing over a sceptre to Jayalalithaa.

She also declared that she intended to contest from the Dr. Radhakrishnan Nagar (R.K. Nagar) Assembly constituency in Chennai, which Jayalalithaa last represented as and when a by-poll is conducted there. Ms. Deepa said there were two objectives to the movement – accept the cadre’s wishes that she become the political heir to Jayalalithaa, and second, to stake claim to the AIADMK’s ‘Two Leaves’ symbol. She said democracy had been murdered and her effort would be to revive faith among the people who felt betrayed. She is the treasurer of the new outfit, which was launched after receiving inputs from the ‘original AIADMK cadre’. Asked if she would work with Mr. Panneerselvam, she said time would tell what path would open up.

She said she was surprised by her brother Deepak’s interviews to the media on Thursday.

She felt he had taken a ‘U-Turn’ and that he had been pressured by Sasikala’s family to make various statements. Her brother, she felt, had no clarity on what he wanted for himself.

On whether her outfit would contest the upcoming local body elections and on the appointment of office bearers, she said these decisions would be taken in the coming days.

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Edappadi Palaniswami wins floor test

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami and other members stand up for roll call during the trust vote in the Assembly on Saturday.  

The AIADMK government led by Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami proved its majority in the Tamil Nadu Assembly, winning 122 votes in favour and 11 against following the eviction of DMK MLAs and walkout of Congress and IUML members.  

The 11 members who voted against the government belonged to the rebel AIADMK including former Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam, former School Education Minister K. Pandiarajan, MLAs Semmalai and R. Natraj.

After the House was adjourned for a second time at 1 p.m, the marshals forcibly evicted all DMK members by bodily lifting. Leader of Opposition and DMK working president M K Stalin was seen feverishly slapping his head and screaming while being bodily lifted out. Mr Stalin’s shirt was found torn.

Once all the DMK legislators were evicted, the eight Congress MLAs and the lone IUML member walked out.

The House had to be adjourned twice following violence by the DMK members, who wanted Speaker P. Dhanapal either to adjourn the trust vote or opt for a secret ballot.

Mr Panneerselvam, Congress leader K.R. Ramasamy, IUML member Aboobucker and Mr Natraj also made similar demand.

But Speaker P. Dhanapal made it clear that he would abide by the Assembly Rules 19 (1) and conduct the voting, even though Mr Stalin argued that he could adjourn the proceedings under rule 122 of the House.

“Even if the DMK members and others were in the House, the government would have won the majority,” said Assembly Speaker P. Dhanapal, who conducted the confidence vote moved by Chief Minister Palaniswami.

The Speaker opted for division method for voting and the entire House was divided into six blocks. After the bell rang three times, Assembly secretary A.M.P. Jamaludeen called members of the block one by one. First he counted those who supported the government and followed it by those who are opposed to the confidence vote. Thirdly, he ascertained those who sought to remain neutral. No members took a neutral position.

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After swearing-in, CM, most MLAs return to Koovathur resort

Chief Minsiter Edappadi K. Palaniswami arriving at the Golden Bay Resorts in Koovathur.   | Photo Credit: K. Pichumani

Fisheries Minister Jayakumar claims they have foiled OPS’ and DMK’s plan for fresh elections and saved the State crores of rupees

A majority of the AIADMK MLAs belonging to the Sasikala camp returned to the Golden Bay Resorts in Koovathur after attending the swearing-in of Edappadi K. Palaniswami and his ministers on Thursday evening.

Earlier, the legislators, who claimed that they were voluntarily staying there since February 8, had said that they would vacate the resort and return to their respective constituencies once the Governor invited Mr, Palaniswami to form the government.

In fact, Mr. Palaniswami too returned to the resort after being sworn-in as the 13th Chief Minister of the State. The AIADMK’s newly appointed deputy general secretary T.T.V. Dinakaran had reached a few minutes before him.

Neither of them interacted with waiting journalists. En route Koovathur, off ECR and 80 km from Chennai, the CM also dropped in at another resort where a few other MLAs are staying.

Though it betrayed a lack of comfort in numbers, the ministers insisted they had returned for other reasons. “This is all your imagination. Including ministers, we have come of our own volition,” said Forest Minister Dindigul C. Srinivasan.

The minister said they were at the resort because of the ambience. “I have been abroad and have lived in ten-star hotels, seven-star hotels. I haven’t seen such a peaceful location. This is a super place. We are all together there. There is no problem!” he said.

Earlier in the day, MLAs and Ministers abandoned the three buses that had plied them to the resort; instead, they travelled in cars to the Raj Bhavan. AIADMK men who were guarding the gates to the resort said that the MLAs had returned because their bags and relatives were still in their rooms. “We have been here for a while. Our luggage and other things are here. This is not a permanent place, after all. We are united here,” said Mr. Srinivasan

In a brief statement, Fisheries Minister D. Jayakumar claimed that they had saved the State a lot of money. “OPS (former Chief Minister Panneerselvam) and along with him the DMK wanted elections in Tamil Nadu. The people of this State and their representatives have put a stop to that. An election would cost ₹1,000 crore of people’s tax money. Because of the grace of Idayadeivam Puratchi Thalaivi Amma (Jayalalithaa), that money has been saved today,” he said.

Police continue inquiry

The Kanchipuram District Police conducted an inquiry on Thursday among the MLAs in connection with the complaint lodged by Madurai (South) MLA S.Saravanan who alleged that the legislators were being held against their will.

Speaking to The Hindu, Kanchipuram Superintendent of Police J. Mutharasi said: “Our officers conducted investigations for the second day on Thursday. We recorded statements of the legislators who are camping at the resort. We can not reveal details about what they stated.”

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Edappadi Palaniswami sworn in as Tamil Nadu Chief Minister

Paying homage Edappadi K. Palaniswami went to the Jayalalithaa memorial after being sworn in Chief Minister.   | Photo Credit: M. Vedhan

New CM says he will take floor test tomorrow

Ending the political impasse in Tamil Nadu, Governor Ch. Vidyasagar Rao on Thursday evening administered the oath of office to Edappadi K. Palaniswami as the 13th Chief Minister along with a Council of 30 Ministers.

Mr. Palaniswami said he would take a floor test in the Assembly at 11.a.m. on Saturday to prove his majority, ostensibly to ensure that there is no room for horse trading by the rebel camp headed by former Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam.

Gets 15 days

The Governor had granted him 15 days to prove his majority. This is the first time in 29 years a Chief Minister will be seeking a vote of confidence in the House. Barring Mr. Panneerselvam and K. Pandiarajan, who revolted against the leadership of the ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK), all other Ministers in the outgoing Cabinet were retained. The only new face was K.A. Sengottaiyan, newly appointed chairman of the party presidium.

Mr. Sengottaiyan, a veteran, was given School Education, a portfolio held by Mr. Pandiarajan, while Mr. Palaniswami kept to himself all the subjects including Finance and Home, held by Mr. Panneerselvam.

In addition, he retained the powerful Public Works Department and Highways and Minor Ports, which he handled earlier.

 

After assumption of office, he visited the mausoleums of former Chief Ministers, Jayalalithaa, M.G. Ramachandran and C.N. Annadurai. Expressing confidence that he would demonstrate his majority in the House, Mr. Palaniswami told the media that the “Amma” (Jayalalithaa) government would continue. He then left for the Golden Bay Resorts in Koovathur, where MLAs supporting him have been confined since February 8.

The swearing-in ceremony was, among others, attended by T.T.V. Dinakaran, deputy general secretary of the AIADMK and V. Divakaran, brother of the interim general secretary V.K. Sasikala.

M. Thambidurai, propaganda secretary of the AIADMK and Deputy Speaker of the Lok Sabha, told The Hindu that there was “no split” in the party. Apart from the two MLAs [Mr. Panneerselvam and Mr. Pandiarajan] who were expelled from the Assembly, the eight others who went to the other camp “are with us”, he said.

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MLAs at resort ‘shielded’ from media, visitors

Mediapersons staging a protest after they were attacked by supporters of AIADMK general secretary V.K. Sasikala, in Chennai on Sunday.  

Hundreds of ‘private security’ men were seen manning the 1-km-long road (off the East Coast Road) leading up to Golden Bay Resorts in Koovathur on Sunday where AIADMK MLAs are lodged.

Several attempts made by reporters to breach the security cordon and speak to them were unsuccessful as police said that security for the MLAs was being provided by private players.

Police official E. Vedarathinam, who was present at the venue, said that the reporters could not be allowed access to the resort as it was a ‘private property’. “The MLAs have asked us to stop the media from coming. They don't want to talk.”

The media and locals were allegedly intimidated and some were even reportedly attacked by security guards..

Even though reporters and locals sat on the road in protest, demanding that the police detain the men who attacked the reporters, the police let the men walk away into the open plots nearby. After much haggling, the reporters were told that Ms. Sasikala would address the press. Once inside the resort, the media were prevented from taking pictures and any attempt to speak to MLAs was thwarted. The resort seems to be hosting hundreds of partymen along with MLAs.

After her brief address, the reporters had to walk through hundreds of men, who were holding hands on either side to prevent them from speaking to the MLAs.

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Madhusudhanan asks EC to reject Sasikala’s election as party chief

Says the General Council does not have the power to elect her as the chief of AIADMK

AIADMK presidium chairman E. Madhusudhanan, who was expelled from the party by the rival faction after he joined the Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam faction, wrote to the Election Commission of India on Friday urging it to reject Ms. Sasikala’s appointment as general secretary in December last year.

Insisting that he was the AIADMK’s presidium chairman, Mr. Madhusudhanan cited various sections in the party’s bylaws and contended that the party General Council, which had appointed Ms. Sasikala as the party leader, did not have the power to elect the general secretary. The council has powers only to frame policies and programmes of the party and its implementation.

“As per Rule 43 (of the party bylaw), the General Secretary should be elected only by all the primary members of the party and it cannot be changed or amended since it forms the basic structure of the party bylaw,” he said in his letter.

The election of Ms. Sasikala by the General Council as the interim general secretary was not in accordance with the rules and was in complete violation of the AIADMK party bylaws. “The General Secretary shall be elected only by the primary members of all party units of AIADMK in Tamil Nadu and elsewhere,” he said.

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AIADMK power struggle: Movers and shakers

The key players in Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam’s side: (left to right) former Minister ‘Natham’ R. Viswanathan, former Minister K.P. Munusamy, AIADMK presidium chairman E. Madhusudhanan, Rajya Sabha MP V. Maitreyan and former Speaker P.H. Pandian in Chennai on February 9, 2017.   | Photo Credit: S.R. Raghunathan

A look at the top players in OPS and Sasikala camps.

A look at the top players in power struggle in the AIADMK between the O. Panneerselvam and V.K. Sasikala factions. As of February 15, the Panneerselvam camp has the support of 11 MLAs while Sasikala's has 125.

Panneerselvam camp

E. Madhusudhanan

AIADMK’s presidium chairman, the second most powerful post in the party. The Sasikala camp says he has been expelled from the party and replaced him with K.A. Sengottaiyan. But Mr. Madhusudhanan insists that he can’t be expelled and maintains that V.K. Sasikala lacks qualification to be the general secretary of the AIADMK. He says he has written to the Election Commission that her appointment as interim general secretary is invalid as she was not a member of the AIADMK for five continuous years, as required by the party constitution. Ms. Sasikala and her clan — her husband M. Natarajan and 12 of their close relatives — were expelled on December 19, 2011. On March 31, 2012, only Ms. Sasikala’s expulsion was revoked.

K. P. Munusamy

Former Minister K.P. Munusamy has been even termed by a section of the Tamil media as the brain behind Mr. Panneerselvam’s revolt. Once a powerful frontbencher in the Jayalalithaa dispensation, he was dropped from the Jayalalithaa Ministry after the AIADMK lost the Dharmapuri seat in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. He was pitted against PMK’s Anbumani Ramadoss in Pennagaram and lost in the 2016 Assembly elections. He was among the very few old-timers who did not support Ms. Sasikala’s elevation, and perhaps the first voice of dissent when he took on her brother V. Divakaran for attempting to wield influence over the party.

P.H. Pandian

Interestingly the “Panneer revolution” at the Marina happened on the same day former Tamil Nadu Speaker P.H. Pandian raised questions on the manner in which Ms. Sasikala was elected as the general secretary as well as the leader of the Legislature Party. Besides, he, along with his son Manoj Pandian, a former AIADMK MP, also raised suspicions over the circumstances surrounding Jayalalithaa’s death. Mr. P.H. Pandian is known for his infamous declaration that the Speaker had “sky-high powers” and is expected to be the legal brain of the Panneerselvam side as it takes on Ms. Sasikala.

‘Natham’ R. Viswanathan

Mr. Viswanathan too fell from grace much like Mr. Munusamy. After being No. 3 in the Jayalalithaa Cabinet, the former Power Minister too was pitted against a powerful opponent and lost in the 2016 Assembly elections. Since then his attempts to regain prominence have come to nought. His house was raided along with that of the son of former Chennai Mayor Saidai Duraisamy on September 13, 2016.

V. Maitreyan

The first MP to side with Mr. Panneerselvam, Mr. Maitreyan, a former BJP Tamil Nadu unit chief, joined the AIADMK in 1999 and was sent to the Rajya Sabha soon after. He became the party’s deputy leader in the House, held on to the post till 2014. His impressive stint in the AIADMK came to a halt when he was removed as the floor leader of the party in the Rajya Sabha. He also lost his party post as State president of AIADMK’s medical wing. Not long before Mr. Panneerselvam’s revolt, Mr. Maitreyan was seen to be in Ms. Sasikala’s good books. But he chose to side with Mr. Panneerselvam since “people of Tamil Nadu and AIADMK cadres are with OPS”. Critics and a section of the media cite the former RSS-BJP man’s presence in the OPS camp to add credence to their theory that the Centre is orchestrating the political crisis in Tamil Nadu.

Ma Foi K. Pandiarajan

A HR consultant, Mr. Pandiarajan started his political career by joining the BJP in 2000. Later, he shifted to the DMDK and he contested the 2011 Assembly elections from Virudhunagar and won. In 2016, he contested as the AIADMK candidate and won from the Avadi constituency. On August 29, 2016, Pandiarajan was appointed as Minister for School Education and Sports and Youth Welfare. He was the first Minister to join the Panneerselvam camp, after being a vocal spokesperson of the rival camp for a few days.

Sasikala camp

T.T.V. Dinakaran

AIADMK general secretary V.K. Sasikala and her nephew T.T.V. Dinakaran during her meeting with Governor Ch. Vidyasagar Rao in Chennai on February 9, 2017. Photo: Special Arrangement  

 

For a man who had been thrown out of the party by Jayalalithaa, the re-entry and elevation of Mr. Dinakaran, Sasikala’s nephew, as deputy general secretary is nothing but dramatic. He was once so powerful in the party that he rose to become Treasurer, the post of which Mr. Panneerselvam has now been relieved. The former Periyakulam MP is said to have been instrumental in getting Mr. Paneerselvam an MLA ticket and place in Jayalalithaa’s Cabinet. Mr. Dinakaran’s presence at Sasikala’s all-important meeting with Governor Ch. Vidyasagar Rao has been seen as a sign of him regaining clout in the party. 

S. Venkatesh

Dr. Venkatesh is the son of Sasikala’s brother Sundaravadanan. His sister Anuradha is married to the current deputy general secretary of the part T.T.V. Dinakaran. Dr. Venkatesh, who once headed the party’s youth forum, was among the Sasikala’s relatives expelled from the party in 2011. He has now been re-inducted by Sasikala. According to a section of the Tamil media he, along with Mr. Dinakaran, are calling the shots, relegating Sasikala's husband M. Natarajan and brother V. Divakaran.

Also read: Mannargudi clan hogs limelight at funeral, triggers controversy

Edappadi K. Palaniswami

Edappadi K. Palaniswami   | Photo Credit: Bijoy Ghosh

 

Sasikala’s choice for AIADMK Legislature Party Leader, Mr. Palaniswami has been a staunch Jayalalithaa loyalist since the time she entered active politics in the 1980s. He was part of her four-member kitchen cabinet from 2011-16 along with Mr. Panneerselvam and former Ministers Mr. Viswanathan and R. Vaithilingam.

K.A. Sengottaiyan

Mr. Sengottaiyan has been made presidium chairman of the AIADMK by Sasikala after sacking E. Madhusudhanan. A veteran dating back to MGR times, Mr. Sengottaiyan used to have a lot of influence in party affairs. He was even vested with the responsibility of drafting Jayalalithaa’s campaign plans election after election. His fall from grace came in 2012 when he lost both his Ministerial as well as party posts and has been keeping a low profile since then. He was not inducted into the Cabinet when Jayalalithaa returned to power in 2016. Mr. Sengottaiyan has always been a Jayalalithaa loyalist unlike Mr. Panneerselvam who cast his lot with the Janaki faction after MGR’s death.

C. Sreenivasan

Mr. Sreenivasan has been a four-time MP of the party from Dindigul and a party veteran who rose to become Treasurer under Jayalalithaa. He lost his post to Sasikala’s nephew Mr. Dinakaran in 2006, and the latter lost it to Mr. Panneerselvam in 2007. Life came a full circle for Mr. Sreenivasan in 2017 when he was made Treasurer again by Ms. Sasikala. It was quite a rehabilitation for him as only in the 2016 polls he was given a seat as MLA in 2016 and was later made a Minister after being sidelined by his once protégé ‘Natham’ R. Viswanthan in his home district of Dindigul.

M. Natarajan

M. Natarajan, V.K. Sasikala’s husband. File photo  

 

 

Ms. Sasikala’s husband, a former government PRO, is seen as the leader of Sasikala’s camp, and one of the main persons her opponents cite for their differences with her. Tamil bi-weeklyNakkeeran reports that the events that led to her election as AIADMK Legislature Party leader were scripted by Mr. Natarajan, who reportedly camped in New Delhi and lobbied with his connections both in the BJP and the Congress. On January 17, 2017, he made a claim that it was his family that protected Jayalalithaa after the death of M.G. Ramachandran. “We have made sacrifices and stood by her till the end. But we are accused of indulging in family politics. Why shouldn’t we claim credit for safeguarding the AIADMK,” he had asked. He had also accused the BJP of trying to split the AIADMK and destabilise the Tamil Nadu government and “saffronise” the State. Though Jayalalithaa never kept him close, he is back in the party more powerful.

V. Divakaran

V. Divakaran, V.K. Sasikala’s brother.  

 

Ms. Sasikala’s brother, who too, was thrown out of the party by Jayalalithaa in 2011, reclaimed his prominence after her death. On January 14, 2017 he made a speech in Thanjavur that Mr. Natarajan was instrumental in retrieving the party’s ‘Two Leaves’ symbol after it was frozen following the split in the party after MGR’s death. This triggered former Minister K.P. Munusamy’s outburst against the Mannargudi family. “We did not mushroom [in the AIADMK] in overnight rains. Natarajan and I played a role in building the party and elevating Jayalalithaa as Leader of the Opposition and later as Chief Minister,” Mr. Divakaran had said. Earlier poles apart, Mr. Natarajan and Mr. Divakaran are said to be closely coordinating the affairs of the Sasikala faction now.

 

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130 AIADMK MLAs "free and safe in MLA hostel at Chepauk"

A scene outside the MLA hostel in Chepauk on Thursday.   | Photo Credit: V. Ganesan

“The MLAs have been detained illegally so as to prevent them from extending their support to the revolting Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam,” the petitioners said.

All the 130 MLAs, who have allegedly extended their support to AIADMK general secretary V.K. Sasikala becoming the Chief Minister, are "free and safe in the MLA hostel at Chepauk", government advocate V.M. Rajendran informed the Madras High Court on Thursday.

He made the submission on an urgent mention moved by advocate K. Balu and social activist ‘Traffic’ Ramaswamy before the habeas corpus Bench of the court.

Mr. Balu and Mr. Ramaswamy sought the court’s permission to move an urgent habeas corpus petition seeking to "secure" the 130 MLAs, claiming that they were kept under detention against their will in a resort on East Coast Road (ECR).

“The MLAs have been detained illegally so as to prevent them from extending their support to the revolting Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam,” the petitioners said.

However, questioning the locus standi of the petitioners in moving a habeas corpus plea to secure the MLAs, the Division Bench of Justices M. Jayachandran and T. Mathivanan declined to entertain the early on urgent basis.

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A stopgap Chief Minister who became unstoppable

People thought Sasikala’s act smacked of naked ambition

Overnight on Tuesday, an unlikely hero was born in Tamil Nadu. He rose from the ashes of a pliant, acquiescent man, even genuflecting man.

The metamorphosis of O. Panneerselvam was spectacular as it was unexpected, or perhaps because it was unexpected.

After 40 minutes of absolute stillness at the memorial of his leader and former Chief Minister Jayalalithaa, Mr. Panneerselvam arose, to turn on his recent past and to plunge the knife in, and twist it, repeatedly, on the current leadership in the AIADMK and its general secretary.

The Brutus who was swayed into assassinating Caesar, if you will. But in his address to the media later, the veritable Mark Antony delivered a dignified funeral oration that turned the public tide against AIADMK general secretary V.K. Sasikala, and those on her side. The task was half done for him though.

For those in Tamil Nadu, popular animosity against Ms. Sasikala, particularly since Sunday when she put her hand up for the post of the leader of the legislature party, was quite palpable.

While her ministers, including Mr. Panneerselvam, and MLAs stuck by her, it was clear that public sentiment, for whatever it was worth, weighed overwhelmingly against her.

People thought the act smacked of naked ambition, and that the urgency of it all was suspect.

They said as much on social media. Be that as it may, it did seem that there were no illegalities involved, and nothing stood in the path of Ms. Sasikala’s anointment as chief minister. Until Tuesday night that is.

Mr. Panneerselvam’s announcement at his leader’s memorial, where he invoked her spirit, threw a spanner into the works.

As he spoke slowly, deliberately and in a dignified manner, the details of the palace intrigue emerged, and the plot unravelled.

He spoke sedately of the humiliation heaped on him, and the persistent efforts to hustle him to propose Ms. Sasikala’s name to the position of, firstly, the general secretary of the party, and subsequently, the Chief Minister of the State, and the involvement of other ministers and some members of her family in this. All of this, he did with a smile.

When the insider speaks

This is precisely why Mr. Panneerselvam emerged a hero with his daring act of rebellion.

Here was the insider, the abider who was now rebelling, threatening to tell all, and invoking both the name and spirit of Jayalalithaa.

Years of lack of transparency, and cloak and dagger politics have left the public of the State thirsty for information on the internal workings of the party, and the government. It helped that he countered accusations made against him with dignity, a mild disposition and even a smile.

On Ms. Sasikala’s charge that she had spotted him smiling at the Opposition leader in the Assembly, he deftly feinted, and then lunged forward with the riposte about how the ability to smile distinguished the humans from animals.

People instantly seized on this lone voice of dissent, charmed by his gentlemanly opposition, smiling countenance, swayed by his controlled aggression, and they tweeted his statements, pushing them to the viral zone, building a shrine for him on social media.

On his pedestal now, Mr. Panneerselvam will be judged constantly; people’s expectations of him will mount even as he will remain restricted by the numbers game; he will be under pressure to sustain his new persona.

A metamorphosis, after all, can often be traumatic for the one that undergoes it. In a non-Kafkaesque universe, however, we just might write an ending that is not inevitably tragic.

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Panneerselvam dismisses Sasikala’s charge of DMK conspiracy

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam coming out after meditation at Jayalalithaa memorial in Chennai.   | Photo Credit: B. Jothi Ramalingam

AIADMK MLAs are meeting at the party headquarters to discuss the situation arising out of Mr. Panneerselvam’s outburst.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O Pannerselvam on Wednesday dismissed AIADMK General Secretary Sasikala’s charge that DMK was behind his revolt against the party leadership and said she has no powers to sack him as Treasurer.

“She should be asked to explain the basis of her charge. I was never cordial with DMK. A look back into the history will make it clear,” he told Tamil TV channels after his last night’s sudden revolt.

As the political drama unfolded, security at the Greenways Road residence of Panneerselvam was stepped up even as scores of supporters started thronging the area.

AIADMK MLAs, meanwhile, are meeting at the party headquarters to discuss the situation arising out of Mr. Panneerselvam’s outburst.

“There is no relationship at all between me and the DMK. Its only the human approach to reciprocate when some one smiles at you. That is the difference between animals and humans,” he said.

He was apparently referring to Mr. Sasikala on Tuesday night pointing to the exchange of pleasantries between him and DMK Working President M.K. Stalin, the Leader of the opposition in the Assembly, during the recent session.

He also stuck to his charge that he was forced to resign from the post of Chief Minister, but declined to answer a question whether he would stake claim with the Governor to continue, saying “Just wait and watch.”

“I don’t want to go into it. I had already explained in detail at Amma’s (Jayalalithaa) memorial the circumstances under which I was forced to resign,” he said.

Elaborating on his contention that Ms. Sasikala had no powers to sack him from the party post, Mr. Panneerselvam said already there were legal problems facing the party.

He said general secretary was elected on a temporary basis in view of the extraordinary situation faced by the party (after Jayalalithaa’s demise).

“This is the party’s norm. As per the party’s constitution framed by founder M G Ramachandran at the time floating the AIADMK, legal sanction for the post will come only when all primary members elect the general secretary. Such a general secretary alone has the powers to appoint or remove party functionaries,” he said.

On strong attack against him by AIADMK leaders, including his cabinet colleagues, Mr. Panneerselvam said it was a ‘compulsion of time.’

“They can only speak like that when they are there (with Sasikala). They are in a state of mind of retaining their office for the next four years. They should act keeping in mind that they have to go back to the people,” he said.

On the charge that he had betrayed the party high command, the senior leader said he resigned when he was forced only because he did not want the charge to fall on him.

Asked about allegations levelled against him by some of his opponents that BJP was behind him, Mr. Pannerselvam said, “They (his opponent) don’t have any strong ground against me. They can’t level any allegation against me.”

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Judicial inquiry will be ordered into Jayalalithaa's death: Panneerselvam

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam speaking to mediapersons on Wednesday.   | Photo Credit: ANI

After alleging on Tuesday night that he was forced to resign as Chief Minister, O. Panneerselvam spoke to journalists on Wednesday. He was flanked by Kavundampalayam MLA V.C. Aaru kutty and Rajya Sabha member Maitreyan. 

 

Here are highlights of his speech:

 

>> I will withdraw my resignation, if given an opportunity to do so.

>> MLAs will prove their support in the Assembly.

>> There has been no instance where I have betrayed the party.

>> I have been following Jayalalithaa' s footsteps.

>> Judicial inquiry will be ordered into Jayalalithaa's death

>> As per party bylaws, party general secretary can be elected only by cadres through ballots. Soon a general body should be convened to elect a permanent general secretary.

>> I will accept Deepa Jayakumar's ( Jayalalithaa's niece) support, if offered. 

>> I will meet Governor soon and I will meet the people in every nook and corner. 

>> My appeal to MLAs is that they should take decision taking into account people's feelings in their constituencies.

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AIADMK, the story so far

OPS revolts, says he was forced to quit

Tamil Nadu CM O. Panneerselvam at the Jayalalithaa memorial on Tuesday.   | Photo Credit: B. Jothi Ramalingam

‘Someone with a popular mandate alone should be Chief Minister’

Tamil Nadu’s politics took a dramatic turn on Tuesday night with outgoing Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam announcing that he was compelled to resign from his post and humiliated while holding the high office. Following this revolt, AIADMK general secretary V.K. Sasikala dismissed him from the post of party treasurer and appointed Dindigul Srinivasan in his place.

Later, addressing the media outside her Poes Garden residence, Ms. Sasikala said all the MLAs were together and would be meeting on Wednesday.

Earlier, hinting that he was not in favour of Ms. Sasikala taking over the reins of the government, Mr. Panneerselvam told the media at the Marina, “Only someone who has the support of all the cadre of the party and the mandate of the people should take charge as Chief Minister. Taking into account the future of Tamil Nadu, someone who can run the party efficiently and as per Amma’s wishes and keep up the good name alone should lead.” Mr. Panneerselvam, who said he wasn’t informed in advance about Sunday’s MLAs’ meeting, added that he would be willing to withdraw his resignation “if people wanted”.

Mr. Panneerselvam’s unexpected show of revolt at the memorial of Jayalalithaa, his political mentor, drew support from a cross-section of people, including AIADMK cadre who converged outside his house in the night. Some Ministers and supporters had assembled outside Ms. Sasikala’s residence.

The Chief Minister took everyone by surprise when he went to the memorial at the Marina around 9 p.m., accompanied by only his personal security staff, and sat in meditation for 40 minutes before alleging that Ms. Sasikala was “annoyed” over his government’s good work during Cyclone Vardah.

“I came here [Marina] because my conscience was pricking me. I have some truth to tell the people of the country and the cadre,” Mr. Panneerselvam said.

The Chief Minister said that when Jayalalithaa was in hospital, he was initially told that the plan was to make senior leader E. Madhusoodhanan the general secretary and him the Chief Minister.

However, after he assumed office, Revenue Minister R.B. Udhayakumar said Ms. Sasikala should also hold office as Chief Minister. This he felt undermined his position and he protested. Similarly, he was taken aback when Health Minister C. Vijaya Baskar told him that Ms. Sasikala’s brother Divakaran had conveyed that she should be general secretary instead of Mr. Madhusoodhanan.

OPS had questioned need for changing CM

Outgoing Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam told the media at the Marina on Tuesday night that he was not even informed about the meeting of the MLAs to elect V.K. Sasikala as leader of the legislature party.

“I didn’t have any information about the meeting. I was told that all the MLAs had been called and their signatures were being taken. I went to Amma’s house. Senior ministers, party officials and relatives of the party general secretary [Sasikala] were present,” he said.

“They informed me that all of us have to work together to make preparations for Sasikala to take over as the Chief Minister. I asked them what was the need for it. They told me that all MLAs are already at the party office, and one person should hold both posts,” the Chief Minister explained.

Mr Panneerselvam said he argued with them for nearly two hours about the need for the change at this juncture. “I reminded them that it was they who forced me to take up the Chief Minister’s post when I refused it after Amma’s death, and was humiliated many times, but no one said anything.

“Finally, they held my hand and told me that if I didn’t support it (Sasikala's elevation), it would go against the principles of the party. I told them I will go to Amma’s memorial and inform 'my mother'. But they didn’t allow me even that courtesy. I was cornered in that situation and was forced to give my resignation.”

The Chief Minister said he was speaking out after being “guided” by Jayalalithaa’s “soul”. “I was working with the mindset that not even a small crack should appear in the organisation (AIADMK) because of me. If required, I will be ready to fight alone,” he said.

Stalin's plea to Governor

DMK working president M.K. Stalin said in the wake of Mr Panneerselvam’s statement, the Governor must intervene and take steps to install a government in its places as per the Constitution. “It looks like there is no government in place presently,” he said.

In a midnight press conference, BJP national secretary H. Raja hailed the Chief Minister saying he had done a great service to the people of Tamil Nadu by coming out openly against Ms Sasikala. “He need not fear for his life,” Mr Raja said.

Governor to reach today.

Tamil Nadu Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao is expected to return.

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AIADMK, the story so far

Decks cleared for Sasikala as Governor accepts Pannerselvam’s resignation

O. Panneerselvam seen at the AIADMK headquarters in Chennai on Sunday.   | Photo Credit: M. Vedhan

Mr. Panneerselvam had resigned on Sunday citing “personal reasons”.

Tamil Nadu Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao on Monday accepted the resignation of Chief Minister O Panneerselvam, clearing the decks for V.K. Sasikala to take over the top post.

Mr. Panneerselvam had resigned on Sunday citing “personal reasons”. His resignation came after AIADMK chief Sasikala was elected the Legislature Party Leader.

“I hereby accept your resignation and the resignation of your Council of Ministers tendered vide your letter dated February 5, 2017,” Mr. Rao told Mr. Panneerselvam.

In a letter addressed to the Chief Minister and released by the Raj Bhavan, Mr. Rao also asked Mr. Panneerselvam and his Cabinet to function “until alternative arrangements are made”.

In his resignation letter addressed to the Governor on Sunday, he had said, “Due to my personal reasons, I’m tendering my resignation from the post of Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu.”

“Kindly accept my resignation and relieve the Council of Ministers of Tamil Nadu appointed by me on December 6, 2016,” he said.

Mr. Panneerselvam was sworn in Chief Minister on December 6 within hours of the death of his predecessor Jayalalithaa.

Incidentally, he had proposed the name of Ms. Sasikala for the top post at the AIADMK MLAs meeting held in the party headquarters in Chennai on Sunday.

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AIADMK, the story so far

Sasikala set to become Tamil Nadu Chief Minister

AIADMK functionaries greet AIADMK general secretary V.K. Sasikala at the party headquarters in Chennai on Sunday.   | Photo Credit: B. Jothi Ramalingam

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam proposed her name at a meeting of party MLAs in Chennai.

Exactly two months after Jayalalithaa’s death, her long-time friend and AIADMK general secretary V.K. Sasikala was “unanimously” elected leader of the Legislature Party at a meeting in the party headquarters here on Sunday, paving the way for her to become the third woman Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu.

Ms. Sasikala, who has no formal political experience except for the last month-and-a-half, is expected to assume office on February 7 or 9. As per the constitutional mandate, she has to get elected to the Assembly as a legislator within six months of taking charge as Chief Minister.

OPS to quit

Incumbent Chief Minister and party treasurer O. Panneerselvam, who proposed her name for legislature party leader, at the MLAs’ meeting, announced that he would send his resignation to Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao. The resolution was adopted unanimously. Soon after, dressed in a green saree, Ms. Sasikala arrived at the party head office from the Poes Garden residence, in the Toyota Prado car (TN-09 BE-6167) used by Jayalalithaa.

Addressing the MLAs, 62-year-old Ms. Sasikala acknowledged the loyalty of Mr. Panneerselvam to the party and claimed it was he, who first urged her to take over as the general secretary as well as the Chief Minister, soon after Jayalalithaa’s death. “However, I was not in the frame of mind to accept it then,” Ms. Sasikala said in her speech, which was telecast by party mouthpiece Jaya TV.

With the Governor out of town, the change of guard is likely to take a couple of days. Mr. Rao was in Coimbatore on Sunday and left for New Delhi to attend a private function and his exact date of return to the city is not known, a Raj Bhavan official said.

Meanwhile, Mr. Panneerselvam faxed his resignation to the Governor. “Due to my personal reasons, I am tendering my resignation,” he said, requesting him to relieve the Council of Ministers appointed on December 6, 2016. In a separate letter to the PM, Mr. Panneerselvam thanked him for all the support during his tenure.

Tamil Nadu has on three occasions in the past witnessed persons not elected to the Assembly being sworn in as Chief Minister — C.N. Annadurai in 1967, V.N. Janaki (MGR’s widow) in 1987 and Jayalalithaa in 2001. Of them Janaki had to quit office within 24 days having lost the confidence of the House. Ms. Sasikala’s proposed swearing-in will be the third such event since May 2016 when Jayalalithaa retained power.

Mr. Panneerselvam was sworn in Chief Minister in the early hours of December 6 last year.

 

 

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AIADMK, the story so far

Sasikala Pushpa writes to EC on Sasikala Natarajan’s appointment as AIADMK general secretary

Sasikala Pushpa and Sasikala Natarajan  

She released a statement saying she has asked the EC not to accept Ms. Sasikala Natarajan’s appointment as interim general secretary of the AIADMK.

Expelled AIADMK MP Sasikala Pushpa has submitted a “letter of dissent” to the Election Commission (EC) on the “undemocratic nomination” of Sasikala Natarajan as the interim general secretary of AIADMK.

Ms. Sasikala Pushpa, on Saturday, released a statement saying she has asked the EC not to accept Ms. Sasikala Natarajan’s appointment as interim general secretary of the AIADMK.

In the statement, Ms. Sasikala Pushpa labels Ms. Sasikala Natarajan as “autocratic.” She recalls an incident in December 2016, when her husband Lingeswarathilagan was roughed up when he went to the party headquarters to submit his nomination paper for the post of general secretary.

“The party officials beat him brutally and police had detained him in illegal custody from 2pm on 28 December to 9.30 am on 29 December. Our family members were not informed (sic) whereabouts too,” Ms. Sasikala Puashpa said in the statement. “It is a brutal attack on the democratic process and Mrs. Sasikala Natarajan is following a rude, autocratic method,” the statement added.

The statement goes on to add, “The point of reference for your consideration is that AIADMK did not follow the byelaws of the party while nominating Mrs. Sasikala Natarajan as so-called general secretary of AIADMK party. A similar petition was sent to Hon’ Prime Minister’s office, the Tamil Nadu Chief Election Commissioner etc.”

Following her letter, the EC has now sought AIADMK’s response, reports PTI.

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AIADMK, the story so far

V.K. Sasikala appointed as AIADMK general secretary

A banner placed outside the AIADMK general council meeting venue mentioning V.K. Sasikala as the party's general secretary, on Thursday.   | Photo Credit: V. Ganesan

Resolution passed at general council meeting says that until the formal election process is completed, she will hold all powers that come with the post.

The AIADMK general council on Thursday unanimously passed a resolution appointing V.K. Sasikala, close aide of former Chief Minister and party supremo Jayalalithaa, as general secretary of the party. 

The resolution said that until the formal election process was completed, she would hold all powers that came with the post.

The resolution read "as per Rule 20(2) of the party's by-laws, this Council unanimously resolves that V.K. Sasikala will be appointed General Secretary until she is formally elected to the post". It said, "Ms. Sasikala will have all powers vested with the general secretary."

The general council meeting at Vanagaram, on the outskirts of Chennai, began with leaders paying tributes to Jayalalithaa.

 

Through a resolution, the party sought the Nobel Peace Prize and the Ramon Magsasay award for Jayalalithaa and the installation of her statue in Parliament.

Later, Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam, along with a few other party leaders, met Ms. Sasikala and gave a copy of the resolutions to her.

Ms. Sasikala accepted the party members' request to function as the general secretary.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O.Panneerselvam addressing the media after Ms. Sasikala was elected general secretary.   | Photo Credit: V. Ganesan

 

The general council meeting was presided by party presidium chairman E. Madhusudhanan. This was its first meeting after Jayalalithaa's death.

The chorus for Ms. Sasikala as general secretary started a few days after the death.

 

On Wednesday, senior AIADMK leader C. Ponnaiyan declared “there is no contest.”

All district and lower level party units and various mass organisations affiliated to the AIADMK had urged Ms. Sasikala to become the general secretary.

 

Ms. Sasikala has refrained from appearing in public after her family’s show of strength at the Rajaji Hall where Jayalalithaa’s body was kept for the public to pay their last respects.

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AIADMK, the story so far

Sasikala takes over as AIADMK general secretary

V.K. Sasikala breaks down while addressing party members after taking over as AIADMK general secretary at the party headquarters in Chennai on Saturday.  

An emotional Sasikala said "For Amma, this organisation was life. For me she was my life."

V.K. Sasikala, close aide of former Chief Minister Jayalalithaa, formally took over as the general secretary of the AIADMK on Saturday.

She became the second woman leader to lead the party after Jayalalithaa.

On Thursday,  the AIADMK general council appointed Ms. Sasikala as general secretary. She will be the interim general secretary till she is formally elected to the post.

Ms. Sasikala who arrived at the party headquarters at 12.12 p.m. garlanded the statue of MGR even as a few women cadre raised the slogan "Puratchi Thalaivi Vaazhga".  A few seconds later they chanted "chinnamma Vaazhga".

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After garlanding the statue, Ms. Sasikala, flanked by senior party members and Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam, went inside the headquarters building to the office room of the general secretary. They were closeted inside for more than 20 minutes.

Ms. Sasikala then came out to the balcony on the first floor, greeted partymen with folded hands and left. She then went inside and addressed party members.

"It was shocking that she [Jayalalithaa] died suddenly. She has left us leaderless. For Amma, this organisation was  life. For me she was my life," the new general secretary said.

During her 23 -minute speech, she broke down several times. She thanked everyone for making her the general secretary and promised to lead the party in the right direction “till her last breath”.

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Ms. Sasikala also said she never even dreamt that she would be in this position, nor was this her ambition. She also hit out at the opposition parties for trying to break the unity of the AIADMK.

The speech was also showed on a specially-erected screen at the venue.

Interestingly, there seemed as if there were more police personnel at the venue than party cadre, in a departure from the past when cadre would throng the road to have a glimpse of Jayalalithaa. Security was also stepped up at Poes Garden.

V.K. Sasikala speaks after taking over as AIADMK general secretary at the party headquarters in Chennai on Saturday.  

 

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AIADMK, the story so far

O. Panneerselvam sworn in as Chief Minister

O. Panneerselvam   | Photo Credit: PTI

Amidst a pall of gloom following Chief Minister Jayalalithaa’s death, senior AIADMK leader O. Panneerselvam was elected the leader of the AIADMK Legislature Party shortly after Monday midnight and sworn in as Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu.

At a solemn ceremony in the Raj Bhavan, Mr. Panneerselvam was administered the oath of office and secrecy by Governor Ch. Vidyasagar Rao. This was his third swearing-in as Chief Minister.

All 31 members of the outgoing Ministry were sworn in along with him.

As Jayalalithaa’s trusted man, Mr. Panneerselvam had stepped into her shoes for two brief periods — during 2001-02 and 2014-15 — after she was unseated by courts.

The meeting of the Legislature Party was chaired by AIADMK presidium chairman E. Madhusoothanan, who was flanked by senior leaders, including Mr. Panneerselvam, Edappadi K. Palaniswami, S.P. Velumani, Dindigul C. Sreenivasan and P. Thangamani.

Challenging task

With over four years to go for the present government, Mr. Panneerselvam will have the challenge of keeping the party together as it tries to reinvent itself in the post-Jayalalithaa period. At present, there seems no one in the AIADMK who can match the charisma of party founder M.G. Ramachandran or the leadership skills of Jayalalithaa, both of whom held sway over the masses for over four decades.

Tension filled day

On a day of high drama, Mr. Panneerselvam, OPS as he is widely known, was at Apollo Hospitals till about 11 p.m.

Earlier, other party MLAs left the hospital for the party headquarters, where they waited for him before electing him as the Legislature Party leader.

Only after it became evident that the death of Jayalalithaa would be announced did he leave for the party headquarters on Avvai Shanmugam Salai in Royapettah.

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AIADMK, the story so far

Jayalalithaa is no more

Chief Minister Jayalalithaa.   | Photo Credit: Shaju John

Her mortal remains will be kept in state at the historic Rajaji Hall on Tuesday to enable the public to pay homage.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa is no more. Seventy-four days after being admitted to Apollo Hospitals here, the general secretary of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam passed away at 11.30 p.m. on Monday. She did not respond to emergency life support treatment administered after she suffered a cardiac arrest a day earlier. She was 68.

Late in the night, her body was taken to ‘Veda Nilayam’, her residence in Poes Garden in the heart of Chennai. Officials said her mortal remains would be kept in state at the historic Rajaji Hall on Tuesday to enable the public to pay homage.

An hour before the announcement about her death was made, the police strength outside the Apollo Hospitals was increased and the route from the hospital to her residence was cleared for traffic. Security personnel took position outside in good measure.

Around midnight, Sasikala Natarajan, her trusted aide of over 30 years, who was by her side since the time Jayalalithaa was admitted on September 22, left the Apollo Hospitals for Poes Garden.

Jayalalithaa was one of the country’s most articulate and determined political personalities and a top film actress of the 1960s and 1970s. She showed enormous resolve in fighting one obstacle after another since the time she stepped into the world of politics in June 1982, under the mentorship of Chief Minister M.G. Ramachandran (MGR), the founder of the AIADMK and her lead co-star in 28 Tamil films.

Scenes of sorrow

The death plunged the State and the party into grief. AIADMK cadres and other members of the public who had massed outside the hospital wailed inconsolably, beating their chests, as the news was announced after weeks of anxiety, which peaked on Monday. The State declared a seven-day mourning and a holiday for educational institutions for three days. The national flag and the AIADMK flag would be flown at half-mast as a mark of mourning.

Announcing her death shortly after midnight in a bulletin, the Apollo Hospitals referred to the cardiac arrest she suffered on the evening of December 4 “even while our intensivist was in her room”. It added: “Despite our best efforts, the Honourable Chief Minister’s underlying conditions rendered her unable to recover and she passed away at 11.30 p.m. today.”

On November 13, Jayalalithaa was moved to a private room after she miraculously battled multiple health complications.

A one-time propaganda secretary of the party and a former Rajya Sabha member, Jayalalithaa steered the AIADMK since 1989 when the party, which had split into two following MGR’s death in December 1987, reunited under her stewardship. In the last six years, the political fortunes of the AIADMK soared to a new high, with Jayalalithaa leading it to back-to-back victories in the 2011 Assembly elections, local body polls, the 2014 Parliamentary polls and the last Assembly elections in May 2016.

Since 2011, Jayalalithaa had launched several public welfare schemes doling out numerous freebies under the ‘Brand Amma’, such as launching the Amma Unavagam (canteen), Amma Water, Amma Salt — winning accolades nationally and endearing herself to the masses.

 

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