Chennai: Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami’s scheduled visit to Delhi on Monday, ostensibly to invite Prime Minister Narendra Modi to inaugurate the Jayalalithaa memorial and to discuss development plans for the State, led to tongues wagging in the political circles back home.
The political grapevine had it that Palaniswami has gone to explain to the Prime Ministers and other leaders of the BJP the difficulties in allowing the T T V Dhinakaran-led AMMK merge with the AIADMK at this point of time.
That Dhinakaran was also planning to fly to Delhi by a chartered flight only added fuel to the rumours, though Fisheries Minister D Jayakumar, who accompanied the Chief Minister, told the media rather categorically that the visit was to seek funds for the various schemes initiated by the State government and to invite the Prime Minister for the inaugural function.
The BJP, it is said, is keen that the AIADMK’s vote bank is intact when the alliance goes to polls, probably in April or May, and does not want the AMMK to split it. The perception is that the arrival of V K Sasikala, aide of former Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, in the political scene could create a bigger rift in the party with many leaders and functionaries of AIADMK throwing their weight behind her.
In such a scenario, the AMMK could walk away with more votes that would otherwise go to the AIADMK and thus weaken the entire alliance, in which the BJP is a part, paving the way for an easy victory of the DMK in the elections.
So, the BJP leaders are said to be putting pressure on the AIADMK to accept Sasikala and AMMK into the party fold without any fuss. Voicing the same sentiment was Deputy Chief Minister and AIADMK coordinator O Panneerselvam at a meeting of Jayalalithaa Peravai office-bearers on Monday.
Panneerselvam said in Chennai that 1.5 crore cadre of the AIADMK should ensure the easy victory of the party in the elections and that any differences between the brothers would be sorted out amicably. It was construed as his desire to unite the AMMK and AIADMK cadre.
That was also the indication given by Thuglak editor S Gurumurthy, who treated the AIADMK and Sasikala as one entity that should be used to defeat the DMK, at the anniversary function of the magazine on January 14. Gurumurthy was engaged in a long conversation with Union Home Minister Amit Shah when he visited Chennai last and the two might have discussed the BJP strategy for the State.
But the other leaders of the AIADMK, including Palaniswami, are of the opinion that allowing Sasikala into the party at this juncture could be detrimental to the poll prospects of the party and hence want to think about the merger with AMMK after the elections.
The AIADMK leaders, however, are wary of totally renouncing Sasikala as they fear that she could approach the court against her removal from the post of general secretary of AIADMK, which has not been filled so far. In the event of her taking the legal route, there is also the possibility of the ‘Two Leaves’ symbol getting frozen.
Since Dhinakaran is said to be in touch with some BJP leaders in Delhi in a bid to get something substantial for him and his followers, the AIADMK leaders are reportedly suggesting that the BJP accommodate the AMMK as its ally and share some seats allotted to it to their representatives.
Whatever it is, Palaniswami’s meetings with Amit Shah and also Modi are likely to have an impact on the State’s political situation.