Tamil Nadu’s ruling AIADMK and Sasikala-led AMMK hold talks for merger

South India

The Bharatiya Janata Party is taking the initiative to bring the two parties together ahead of the Assembly election in 2021.

Tamil Nadu’s ruling AIADMK has begun talks with Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam (AMMK), a breakaway faction of the party led by VK Sasikala, former chief minister J Jayalalitha’s aide, for a merger between the two parties ahead of the Assembly election to be held in 2021.

The initiative to bring the two parties together has been taken by the Bharatiya Janata Party, an ally of the AIADMK, following talks AMMK leader and Sasikala’s nephew TTV Dhinakaran had with the party’s top leaders in New Delhi the other day, according to Indian Express.  

Sasikala, who had emerged as the political heir of Jayalalitha, was forced to leave the political scene after she was jailed in the disproportionate asset case. Dhinakaran tried to keep her politically alive by forming the AMMK. He started the efforts to bring her back to the AIADMK following reports about Sasikala’s early release from jail.

It is not clear whether the current AIADMK leadership will be ready to concede the top position to Sasikala. The Indian Expresss report said that Dhinakaran has demanded that his aunt be made the general secretary and he be given a key post.

The report suggests that the arrangement could be such where Palaniswami and Paneerselvam continue as CM, Deputy CM while the party reins are passed on to Sasikala. A senior AIADMK minister, as per the report, said the proposed division of powers would be agreeable to most party members.

The BJP central leadership had been pressing for a merger for more than a year now. The party’s central leadership feels that a unity between the two parties is needed to fight the opposition DMK, which has an alliance with the Congress.

In power now for two terms, the AIADMK faces a tough challenge from the DMK in the Assembly polls, its first since supremo J Jayalalithaa’s death. Curiously, the BJP had dumped Sasikala after she went to the prison believed to have engineered a split in the AIADMK, enabling the faction led by O Panneerselvam and Edappadi K Palaniswami to retain power.

The IE quoted a senior AIADMK minister justifying the merger and the division of powers proposed by Dhinakaran. He said that the proposal would be agreeable to most party members of the party.

AMMK treasurer and Sasikala loyalist P Vetrivel said a merger was possible “if the party leadership was returned to safe hands again”. “The AIADMK is totally broken, only leaders like Chinnamma (Sasikala) and Dhinakaran can revive the party. There is no question of talks without these conditions being met,” Vetrivel said, while denying any knowledge of Dhinakaran’s Delhi trip.

Saying only the DMK and not the BJP is “our permanent enemy”, Vetrivel added that the current AIADMK leadership will collapse in the face of a defeat. “And none of them is a big enough leader to contest as a CM candidate.”

Image Credit: The Hindu

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