After months of back and forth, the ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) today expelled V K Sasikala and her nephew TTV Dinakaran from the party.
At the meeting of the AIADMK General Council, Sasikala and TTV Dinakaran’s appointments as party general secretary and deputy general secretary, respectively, were cancelled.
The coucil also ratified the merger of the two factions led by Tamil Nadu Chief Minister K Palaniswami and deputy chief minister O Panneerselvam. It named former Tamil Nadu chief minister Jayalalithaa as AIADMK’s permanent general secretary.
Removing the Mannargudi family, Sasikala and her nephew TTV Dinakaran, from the AIADMK was the chief demand of the Panneerselvam faction before the merger.
With the ouster of Sasikala and Dinakaran from the AIADMK, the wheels of turbulence and change in the AIADMK seem to have come a full circle, nine months after Jayalalithaa’s death in December last year.
We trace the tumultuous journey of the AIADMK since Amma’s death to the merger of the OPS-EPS factions.
JAYALALITHAA DIES, PANNEERSELVAM BECOMES TAMIL NADU CHIEF MINISTER
As Jayalalithaa lost a 74-day battle for life at the Apollo Hospital in Chennai on December 5, 2016, the AIADMK elected O Panneerselvam as the leader of the AIADMK Legislature Party. Within hours of Amma’s death, Panneerselvam was sworn-in as the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister.
SASIKALA TAKES STAGE, ELECTED AS AIADMK GENERAL SECRETARY
Less than a month since Jayalalithaa’s death, her close aide V K Sasikala was elected unopposed as the AIADMK general secretary at a party meeting on December 29, 2016.
PANNEERSELVAM STEPS DOWN AS CM TO MAKE WAY FOR SASIKALA
Panneerselvam tendered his resignation as Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu on February 5, paving way for AIADMK general secretary Sasikala to take charge.
Governor C Vidyasagar Rao, while accepting his resignation, asked him to continue as acting CM till “alternate arrangements are made”. AIADMK legislators unanimously chose Sasikala as the leader of AIADMK Legislature Party. Sasikala said, “Since everyone stressed that one person should hold both the post, that of the chief minister and general secretary of the party, I agreed.”
MIDNIGHT DRAMA AT JAYA MEMORIAL, PANNEERSELVAM DECLARES WAR ON SASIKALA
In a dramatic turn of events, interim chief minister O Panneerselvam reached Jaya Memorial on the night of February 7 and alleged that he was forced to resign by Sasikala camp.
After meditating at the Jaya Memorial, Panneerselvam said, “Jayalalithaa’s soul called out to me, so I came here to search my conscience… I have performed by duty without any shortcomings and carried forward on the path shown by Amma. Sasikala’s team is putting pressure on me”.
As soon as OPS declared war on Sasikala, the latter called an emergency meeting at Poes Garden and expelled Panneerselvam from the post of AIADMK treasurer.
SETBACK FOR SASIKALA IN DISPROPORTIONATE ASSETS CASE
Sasikala’s elevation as Tamil Nadu Chief Minister was put on hold as Governor Vidyasagar Rao sought legal opinion on her appointment as CM as the verdict in the DA case was expected anytime soon.
On February 14, The Supreme Court upheld the trial court’s judgment convicting Sasikala in the 21-year-old disproportionate assets case, and directed her to serve the remaining part of her four-year jail term. Sasikala was now disqualified to take over as the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, and could not contest elections for 10 years.
ENTER PALINISWAMI, SASIKALA LOYALIST TAKES OATH AS TAMIL NADU CHIEF MINISTER
Edappadi Palaniswami, who was believed to be a Sasikala loyalist, was elected as the AIADMK Legislature party leader and took oath as the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu on February 16.
Palaniswami subsequently won the trust vote in the Assembly with 122 MLAs voting in his favour.Sasikala’s nephew TTV Dinakaran was also elected as the AIADMK deputy general secretary at the party meeting.
THE R K NAGAR BYPOLL AND FIGHT OVER AIADMK SYMBOL OF TWO LEAVES
With both the Panneerselvam and Sasikala factions claiming the legacy of the AIADMK and the party’s two-leaves symbol, the fight reached the doors of the Election Commission (EC) ahead of the R K Nagar bypoll, necessitated by the death of Jayalalithaa, who represented the constituency.
The EC, after hearing both the factions, decided to freeze the AIADMK’s two-leaves symbol and said that neither of the two groups will be allowed to use the All India Anna Dravia Munnetra Kazhagam simplicitor.
CASH-FOR-VOTES CONTROVERSY ERUPTS, ELECTION COMMISSION CANCELS R K NAGAR BYPOLL
The Election Commission on April 9 cancelled the bypoll in R K Nagar a day after Income Tax raids in Chennai revealed that money was being allegedly used to buy votes. The EC said that the electoral process was “seriously vitiated” by parties through use of money power.
Sasikala’s nephew TTV Dinakaran was arrested by Delhi Police’s Crime Branch after being accused of bribing an Election Commission official to get AIADMK’s frozen two-leaves symbol for his faction.
MERGER TALKS BEGIN, PANNEERSELVAM HAS TWO NON-NEGOTIABLE DEMANDS
Talks of merger between the OPS and EPS factions started doing the rounds in last week of April. However, team Panneerselvam had two demands–removal of Sasikala and her Mannargudi clan from the AIADMK and a CBI inquiry into the death of Jayalalithaa.
Team EPS, however said that they were not in a position to fulfil the demands but were open for a discussion. Dinakaran maintained that he would stay away from party affairs even as several ministers in the Palaniswami government said that he and his family would be kept out of the party and the government.
MERGER TALKS HIT A ROADBLOCK, TEAM PALANISWAMI SAYS WE HAVE THE NUMBERS
As both the warring factions failed to remove the stumbling roadblocks, sources in the Palaniswami camp said that they have the numbers and the strength in the Assembly. They further said that Panneerselvam camp was given enough time for the merger but did not seem interested.
DINAKARAN GRANTED BAIL, MEETS AUNT SASIKALA IN BENGALURU JAIL
Soon after being granted bail in the case of alleged bribery for party symbol, AIADMK deputy general secretary TTV Dinakaran reached Bengaluru and met aunt Sasikala on June 5.
The next day, 21 AIADMK MLAs met Dinakaran at his residence, giving rise to speculations that many of them, who were part of the Palaniswami camp, may openly declare support to Dinakaran. Losing as many MLAs to Dinakaran could topple the government.
EPS AND OPS WEIGH MERGER OPTION AS TTV DINAKARAN GATHERS MLAs
After returning to Chennai in June, TTV Dinakaran silently gathered several MLAs on his side, with some putting the number to 37. With the threat of running out of majority looming large over the EPS government, talks of merger between Palaniswami and Panneerselvam once again started doing the rounds.
In the subsequent days, both Panneerselvam and Palaniswami were believed to have met Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
DINAKARAN RALLY CREATES A FLUTTER, SASIKALA HAILED AS QUEEN OF SACRIFICE
Sasikala’s nephew TTV Dinakaran addressed a rally, which was attended by 22,000 people, in Madurai district on August 14. Four MPs and 20 MLAs of the AIADMK participated in the rally, touted as a show of strength by Dinakaran.
Calling Sasikala a queen of sacrifice, Dinakaran reminded party cadre that Palaniswami and Panneerselvam were handpicked by his family.
PALANISWAMI ANNOUNCES PROBE INTO AMMA DEATH, PAVES WAY FOR MERGER TALKS
Last Thursday (August 17), Tamil Nadu Chief Minister E Palaniswami announced a judicial probe into the death of Jayalalithaa. He also announced that Jayalalithaa’s Poes Garden residence will be turned into a memorial.
Both these announcements were long-standing demands made by the Panneerselvam camp. It was widely reported that merger between the two factions was almost finalised.
THE EPS-OPS HANDSHAKE, PANNEERSELVAM IS DEPUTY CHIEF MINISTER
O Panneerselvam shook hands with Tamil Nadu Chief Minister E Palaniswami at the AIADMK headquarters in Chennai on August 21. Panneerselvam said that party general secretary V K Sasikala would soon be removed from the post. Later that day, Panneerselvam joined the Palaniswami government as the deputy chief minister. He was also given charge of the important portfolios of finance and housing.