Ruling AIADMK Facing Leadership Crises In Tamil Nadu
With the EPS and OPS factions having merged, it lacks a majority on the floor of the Tamil Nadu assembly. Upheaval in ruling AIADMK in Chennai shows no signs of abating.
With the death of chief minister Jayalalithaa about nine months back, the ruling AIADMK is facing a crisis which was only to be expected. The upheaval shows no signs of abating despite the factions headed by chief minister Edapaddi K Palaniswami and newly appointed deputy chief minister O Paneerselvam respectively having merged, thanks to the intervention of BJP leaders.
The prospects of a stable political environment with a powerful leader at the helm of affairs in the southern state has been belied amid efforts by the third faction of V K Sasikala and her nephew T T K Dhinakaran seeking to oust Palaniswami. At the same time the efforts of the factions headed by EPS and OPS as Palaniswami and Paneerselvam are popularly known has been to ensure that one does not get the better of the other.
If EPS is the chief minister, OPS as the former chief minister becomes the coordinator of the AIADMK. A necessary and crucial precondition for the merger was isolating Sasikala, a close aide of the Jayalalithaa serving a four year sentence in a Bengaluru jail in connection with a disproportionate assets case.
This has palpably weakened the position of EPS having the portends of setting the stage for a snap election. However, none of the legislators want a snap poll with nearly four years remaining for their five-year term to expire in 2021. Seeing the back of Sasikala might not easy as convening the general council meeting of the AIADMK is bound to take some time.
What is crucial and cannot be lost sight of is that the EPS and OPS factions together lack the crucial majority in the assembly having a strength of 233 out of 234 as the late Jayalalithaa or ‘Amma’s’ seat has not yet been filled.
The AIADMK chief whip in the assembly S Rajendran, who is with the Palaniswami faction, has recommended that the Speaker disqualify the 19 MLAs in the Dhinakaran camp, who withdrew their support to the chief minister last Tuesday.
In a bid to keep his flock of legislators away from prying eyes, Dhinakaran has taken them to neighbouring Puducherry, a union territory, and lodged them in a resort there to ensure they are not lured by the alleged money power as evidenced in Tamil Nadu politics.
Simultaneously, the opposition DMK has urged Governor C Vidyasagar Rao, holding additional charge of Tamil Nadu, to call for a floor test in the assembly. It is also somewhat jarring that whenever there is a constitutional crisis in Tamil Nadu, Rao, who is Governor of Maharashtra has to come rushing down to Chennai from Mumbai.
It is widely felt that considering the importance of Tamil Nadu, the southern state should have a full time Governor so that its constitutional head is free of other encumbrances.
Impartial observers believe in the prevailing uncertainty it might be advisable to allow matters to take its own course. If a rival faction is keen on moving a motion of no confidence against the Palaniswamy government, it should be left to the assembly to decide.
On its part the ruling BJP at the Centre is keen on enlarging its footprint in Tamil Nadu hoping that the AIADMK becomes part of the NDA. The Lotus party also wants to rope in cine star Rajnikant who appears inclined to finally enter politics in the run up to the 2019 general elections.
Rajnikant’s fans were already testing the waters having held a rally in Trichy on August 21. It was meant to persuade the 67-year-old super star to join politics at the earliest. The congregation underlined Rajnikant’s plans revolving around good governance, eradicating poverty and linking of peninsular rivers. Rajnikant himself was conspicuously absent.
BJP president Amit Shah is keenly eyeing Tamil Nadu which contributes a sizeable 39 seats to the Lok Sabha as he has fixed an ambitious target of at least 350 seats on its own in the 2019 general elections. In the last general elections three years back the BJP secured a majority on its own for the first time in the Lok Sabha with a tally of 282 and along with its allies in the NDA crossed the rubicon of 300 managing a comfortable 340 odd seats in the 543-member Lok Sabha..
With the advent of Modi and Shah on the national scene more than 36 months back, the BJP has grown from strength to strength with the saffron colour becoming dominant across the country’s map at the cost of the Congress and certain regional parties.
With assembly elections due in Karnataka next year, BJP strategists are currently focussing on regaining power in that state where it had ruled with B S Yedurappa at the helm of affairs. For the last five years the Congress has been in power in Bengaluru with Siddaramaiah as chief minister.