Tamil Nadu

Sasikala’s expected release kindles debate on merger

The release of V.K. Sasikala, former interim general secretary of the AIADMK and aide of former Chief Minister Jayalalithaa, expected later this month, has again kindled the debate within and outside the party whether the parent body and the three-year-old Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam (AMMK) will come together.

The idea of a rapprochement is nothing new. Ahead of the last Lok Sabha election, Union Minister and Republican Party of India (A) chief Ramdas Athawale had given an open call for the union of the two parties. But he clarified that the BJP had “no role” in his call. In his recent interview to this newspaper, Chief Minister and AIADMK co-coordinator Edappadi K. Palaniswami made it clear that Ministers and party MLAs had chosen him to head the government in February 2017.

Tone of conciliation

Early this week, party organisation secretary Gokula Indira made an allusion to Sasikala during a protest against DMK youth wing secretary Udhayanidhi Stalin’s reported observations against her and the Chief Minister. In an interview to a Tamil journal, Dairy Development Minister and AIADMK Virudhunagar (West) secretary K.T. Rajenthra Bhalaji referred to the possibility of the merger of the AMMK with the AIADMK, and there was a tone of conciliation towards the AMMK cadre.

Later, Fisheries Minister D. Jayakumar, widely regarded as the spokesperson of the Cabinet, expressed his disapproval of the remarks of the two AIADMK office-bearers. He reiterated the party’s position that, he said, was clear since 2017. “It has been our stand that we want to run the affairs of the government and the party independent of the interference of her or her associates. There is no confusion on our part,” he explained, adding that there would be “no impact” of the political entry of Sasikala in Tamil Nadu.

Yet, certain functionaries of the AIADMK, while speaking privately, do not rule out the possibility of “disgruntled elements” in the party rallying behind Sasikala, as and when she leaves jail.

A veteran office-bearer said the leadership has to ponder over whether it will be beneficial to the party to align itself with her, when the controversy regarding Jayalalithaa’s death has not yet been laid to rest.

Warm welcome planned

AMMK propaganda secretary C.R. Saraswathi said decisions concerning the Assembly election, including an alliance, will be taken by Sasikala and T.T.V. Dhinakaran, deputy general secretary of the party.

“At present, we are all eagerly awaiting Chinnamma’s [Sasikala’s] release. We are planning to give her a warm welcome,” she added.

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Printable version | Feb 28, 2021 9:58:50 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/sasikalas-expected-release-kindles-debate-on-merger/article33590845.ece

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