Dinakaran, once Jayalalithaa’s troubleshooter, has emerged as the inheritor of Jayalalithaa’s legacy. It means that the two factions of the ruling AIADMK have lost political credibility in the pubic eyes.

Dinakaran, Tamil Nadu, troubleshooter, victory, AIADMK, Tamil politics, Tamil Nadu assembly, Satish Misra
Source: PTI

Jailed AIADMK leader Sasikala Natarajan’s nephew T.T.V. Dinakaran’s convincing win from former Tamil Nadu chief minister J. Jayalalithaa’s assembly seat in the bypoll recently is a major turning point in the state politics.

The contours of the state politics, that has been largely two broad based coalition fronts led by the AIADMK and the DMK, are changing, paving the way for new alignments and emergence of a new power center.

The facade of unity in the ruling AIADMK, erected by the BJP’s administrative might and craft, has come down crashing. And the state politics is once again turning unsettled.

The assembly bypoll result on 24 December is undoubtedly the political resurrection of the jailed Sasikala, who was a trusted household friend of late J. Jayalalithaa. Jayalalithaa had been a loadstar of Tamil politics for nearly 25 years, particularly after the death of M.G. Ramachandran, the founder of the AIADMK and a cinema hero who became the chief minister three times.

Dinakaran, contesting as an independent, defeated his nearest rival, AIADMK’s veteran leader E. Madhusudhanan, by a margin of 40,707 votes in the R.K. Nagar assembly constituency. In the last assembly election of May 2016, Jayalalithaa had won the seat by polling 97,218 votes, defeating the DMK’s N. Marudu Ganesh by a margin of 39,545 votes. Ganesh this time even lost his security deposit. Dinakaran secured 50.32% of the 1, 76,890 votes polled.


Dinakaran, contesting as an independent, defeated his nearest rival, AIADMK’s veteran leader E. Madhusudhanan, by a margin of 40,707 votes in the R.K. Nagar assembly constituency.


BJP candidate Karu Nagarajan caused a major embarrassment to his party as he polled fewer votes than those recorded for the NOTA option. While Nagarajan secured 1,417 votes, as many as 2,372 voters opted for NOTA. Incidentally, Naam Tamilar, a fledgling party, polled 3,860 votes securing fourth place.

The BJP has been trying its best to emerge as a political player in the state. The Modi government played a big role in unifying the two warring factions of the ruling AIADMK and ensuring the marginalisation of once powerful Sasikala who had become the general secretary of the ruling party after the death of Jayalalithaa. Sasikala is serving a jail sentence in Bangalore in the disproportionate asset case while her nephew, Dinakaran, was in jail for 40 days in Delhi on the charges of allegedly trying to bribe officials of the Election Commission to obtain the AIADMK’s official two leaves election symbol. He was released on bail in June this year.

Dinakaran, who was being sought to be sidelined by the ruling AIADMK’s two factions, one  led by Chief Minister E.K. Palaniswamy and the other by Deputy Chief Minister O. Paneerselvam, was removed as the party’s deputy general secretary in September this year.

Dinakaran, Tamil Nadu, Palaniswamy, AIADMK, Tamil politics, Panneerselvam, Satish Misra
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister E.K. Palanisamy and Deputy Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam at an emergency meeting of AIADMKs high-level committee, 25 December | Source: PTI

Now, Dinakaran, once Jayalalithaa’s troubleshooter, has clearly emerged as the inheritor of Jayalalithaa’s legacy. It clearly means that the two factions of the ruling AIADMK have lost political credibility in the pubic eyes and thus are going to be gradually politically redundant in the months to come.

The AIADMK government, led by Chief Minister E.K. Palaniswamy, may survive for the present because majority of the MLAs of the ruling party would not like to face a mid-term poll. The assembly has still three and half years duration left.

For AIADMK’s cadres and its top leaders, Dinakaran’s win is a concrete proof that the electorate is treating Sasikala and his nephew as the real party founded by late M.G. Ramachandran and nurtured by Jayalalithaa. Victory has sown the seeds of confusion in the minds of party cadres and leaders.

In the coming days and weeks, the ruling AIADMK is going to witness turbulence with leaders deserting the party to join the TTV camp. If migration by top leaders and AIADMK MLAs to the TTV camp begins and attains a critical mass, then there are two possibilities. One possibility is that Dinakaran is elected the leader of the AIADMK’s legislature party and thus become the next chief minister. The other possibility is that the Palaniswamy government falls and the state comes under President’s rule.


In the coming days and weeks, the ruling AIADMK is going to witness turbulence with leaders deserting the party to join the TTV (Dinakaran) camp.


While the AIADMK will be engaged in internecine fights between different factions, the DMK is going to be the direct beneficiary of the struggle in the ruling party. The DMK under the spirited leadership of M. Stalin is going to gain from the developments in the AIADMK. The 2G verdict has strengthened the DMK as two of its leaders have been acquitted by the special CBI court.

Meanwhile, the fate of the 19 AIAMK MLAs owing loyalty to Dinakaran is hanging in balance awaiting the court’s verdict. If the court verdict favours Dinakaran, then Sasikala’s nephew is going to gain tangible political traction.

A session of the Tamil Nadu assembly is scheduled for January next year and this would be the time real political drama is expected to unfold. The role of the Governor and the Centre is going to be very critical. The DMK would try to bring down the government by moving a no-confidence motion against the Palaniswamy government.

Faced with the prospect of the loss of the government, the AIADMK MLAs will not like to face fresh election and in that case, Dinakaran is likely to be accepted as the leader of the legislature party, paving the way for him to stake a claim to the chief ministerial chair.

The BJP has been totally backing the two factions of the ruling AIADMK as its MPs in the Rajya Sabha were a guarantee against the majority of the opposition in the upper house. Moreover, it was hoping that the BJP would contest the 2019 Lok Sabha election in alliance with the AIADMK, but the latest development has caused a big blow to its political calculations.

Tamil Nadu’s cine super star Rajinikanth has declared that he would announce his final decision on direct political entry on 31 December. If he decides to float a political outfit in coming months, then the state politics will witness more confusion with the electorate, while having more options, would have to decide which way to go. His entry into active politics is going to be an additional factor in the Tamil politics.

The BJP would have to decide which way to go for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. It would have to choose between the DMK and the Dinakaran-Sasikala’s AIADMK or left over of today’s ruling AIADMK.

Choice for the DMK is also not going to be easy. It would have either to divorce the Congress from its present alliance or to choose the BJP as the new partner. The BJP’s political base in Tamil Nadu is weak but it is in power at the Centre.

It clearly means that Tamil Nadu is going to witness political tremors resulting in new political alignments.

The views expressed above belong to the author(s).

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