Even as a war of allegations and mud-slinging broke out on the ground, the feud between Sasikala and former CM O Panneerselvam has also penetrated into social media. Supporters of OPS are now distributing phone numbers and contact details of the MLAs, asking people to build pressure on them to support him.
As in the press conferences in the offline world, the AIADMK IT wing has been waging a battle with detractors for ownership of the authentic version of events that have unfolded in the past few days. What was vexing for the IT wing was that one of its own had gone rogue â€“ Hari Prabhakaran, one of the key members of the IT wing had been actively pushing OPSâ€™s cause on social media since the latterâ€™s dramatic Tuesday night announcement.
By 10.53pm on Tuesday night, Hari had tweeted that he was fully in support of OPS, and appealed to others in the party to do the same.
I'm proud to throw my post for supporting my CM #OPS.
Now atleast expecting the MLAs and MPs to support to OPS. Amma is living with us.â€” Hari Prabhakaran (@Hariadmk) February 7, 2017
This tweet and others reached a wide circle of social media users being shared and liked by hundreds of people. Soon, Hari was removed from the IT wing, which only seemed to embolden the resolve he and others in support of OPS had displayed.
Among their many tweets and posts criticising Sasikala and showering praise on OPS, one of the disruptive tactics these OPS supporters came up with was to post the names and phone numbers of AIADMK MLAs, urging other users to call their MLAs and register their support for OPS and their rejection of Sasikala.
Things came to a head on Wednesday afternoon, when the AIADMK finally sacked the head of the IT wing Singai G Ramachandran, replacing him with VVR Raj Sathyan. Ramachandran was sacked, and removed from party membership for anti-party activities â€“ reportedly for being present at an OPS press conference, and for retweeting tweets in support of OPS.
However, none of this has deterred the OPS camp online, and it seems that the AIADMK IT wing has generally been on the backfoot in this fight. Indeed, the official social media team has been so badly hurt by unofficial OPS supporters that the official AIADMK Twitter handle had to remind social media users that the handle @CMOTamilNadu was not an official handle.
.@CMOTamilNadu is not the official Twitter handle of Honourable Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu.â€” AIADMK (@AIADMKOfficial) February 7, 2017
That informal handle, together with handles of persons like Hari Prabhakaran, have been far more prolific in pushing information online, as against the official AIADMK handle, which put out a bare 12 tweets since OPSâ€™s revolt hit the news stream on Tuesday night.