Sasikala’s brother Dhivaharan launched his Anna Dravidar Kazhagam on Sunday. But is there more to the fight between ‘mama’ and ‘machan’?

Mannargudi feud Is uncle Dhivaharans new party an attempt to cut Dhinakarans clout
news Politics Tuesday, June 12, 2018 - 14:38

In a span of three months, Tamil Nadu has witnessed the birth of two new political parties. Ironically, the parties have been started by two men who have worked together for decades.

VK Sasikala’s brother V Dhivaharan announced his political party on Sunday. Dhivaharan’s Anna Dravidar Kazhagam comes less than three months after his nephew and RK Nagar MLA TTV Dhinakaran launched his Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam.

Dhivaharan unveiled the red, black, white and green-starred party flag on Sunday in his home town of Mannargudi in Thiruvarur district. Speaking to reporters, he explained the objectives of his party that will mainly be focused on environmental protection.

“Today, we have given a new name for Amma's team. We have named it Anna Dravidar Kazhagam. Dravidar Kazhagam has come from Justice Party. All other parties have come from Dravidar Kazhagam. There is Periyar Dravidar Kazhagam and Thanthai Periyar Dravidar Kazhagam. We have accepted Anna as the word that refers to all Dravidian leaders,” he said.

Explaining the significance of the party flag, he said, “The vertical black on the flag refers to the inequality in society and the dark side. The horizontal red colour represents the equality that all people have the same blood. It also shows the strength of man. The white colour at the bottom shows man's intelligence, peace, knowledge and wisdom. With his intelligence man has to come forward to destroy the vices in society. This is the understanding of our group. The star at the centre in green colour refers to environmental protection. In addition to that, the five-point star refers to Periyar, Anna, Puratchi Thalaivar(MGR), Puratchi Thalaivi(Jayalalithaa) and the fifth points to the faceless Dravidianism.”

Though Dhivaharan has called his party the one that will take forward the ideals of MGR and Jayalalithaa, he does not have the blessings of his sister VK Sasikala, who had been Jayalalithaa’s aide for decades.

In May this year, Sasikala who is serving jail time at the Parappana Agrahara prison in Bengaluru over her involvement in the Disproportionate Assets case issued a notice to Dhivaharan warning him against spreading “lies” and “rumours” about her and asking him refrain from using her name or photograph for his political agenda.

Her legal notice came in the wake of Dhivaharan accusing RK Nagar MLA and leader of the Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam TTV Dhinakaran of running a one-man-show in his breakaway party.

A political analyst from Tiruchy told TNM that Dhivaharan’s party had a hold over office bearers of both the AIADMK and Dhinakaran’a party in Thanjavur district. “They have reasonable influence in Thanjavur and some parts of Tiruchy. The only reason why this party was launched was to split the votes that Dhinakaran would get in 2019.  Dhinakaran is becoming popular in these two districts and it was important for Dhivaharan to curb him.”

He also believes that the split was clearly because the Mannargudi family was not being held together by Sasikala’s husband M Natarajan, who passed away in March. “He was the one who used to solve all the issues within the family. Another relative called Kaliaperumal has stepped into Natarajan’s shoes, but he is not able to hold them together,” says the analyst.

He says that when Sasikala comes out of jail (in three years), or any word from her even before that asking for a reconciliation could make both these men come back together.

This reconciliation is something that the man who has been working with Dhivaharan for more than a decade concurs with. Allur Sreenivasan, who is the editor of a weekly magazine called ‘Avataram’, says, “There is a possibility that they may come together, if there are such circumstances. But for now, we are against TTV Dhinakaran, who we believe has worked against what the AIADMK stands for.”

Allur Sreenivasan does not think Dhivaharan created the party to split votes and says there is a larger purpose. “We will follow the ideals of MGR and J Jayalalithaa. TTV Dhinakaran is responsible for everything that went wrong with the party. He told Sasikala that she should become CM and that started all the trouble. He wanted to become CM himself and contested RK Nagar without any sanction from others,” he says.

Agaran, a lawyer with the Madras High Court who heads Dhinakaran's party's legal wing says that Dhivaharan has no locus standi. "We started this party with Sasikala's blessings and have fought before to win an election. We are not here on the basis of any caste or family identity. Dhivaharan has been trying to harm us for long and the launch of his party is also to obstruct Dhinakaran." 

Speaking to TNM, one political leader close to the development said, “This is a family feud more than a political battle. On the ground, that’s how people see this. A fight between mama and machan. First there was a rift and then they split. When you take a look at who has gone with TTV Dhinakaran and who has gone with Dhivaharan, you’ll notice the latter doesn’t have any big names. He chose Sunday because TTV was in the area. This is a proper internal feud and TTV and Dhivaharan trying to one up each other. Electorally, even when Jayalalithaa was alive, Mannargudi has either been a DMK or CPI bastion.”

(With inputs from Dhanya Rajendran)

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