Trouble is brewing within the AIADMK (Sasikala) camp yet again. A week after the Income Tax department raided properties belonging to Health Minister C Vijayabaskar, the ruling faction appears to be a house divided.
Pressure is mounting on the government to sack the Health Minister and itâ€™s not just from the Opposition led by the DMK. Speculation is rife that AIADMK Deputy General Secretary TTV Dhinakaran is under pressure to drop Vijayabaskar following the IT raids at his official Greenways Road residence in Chennai as well as in properties belonging to his relatives across the state.
This time, the ruling party appears to be split on caste lines with the Gounders led by Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami and Deputy Speaker of the Lok Sabha M Thambidurai reportedly taking on TTV Dhinakaran and Vijayabaskar, who belong to the Thevar community.
A meeting of senior ministers was held at Dhinakaranâ€™s residence in Chennai on Friday on the occasion of Tamil New Year, where the issue of a cabinet reshuffle was discussed. Vijayabaskar, however, was absent having gone to his native place.
With the taint of corruption on Vijayabaskar, sources say that Palaniswami and co were keen to drop the Health Minister. But with I-T officials accusing Vijayabaskar of distributing cash during campaigning for the now scrapped RK Nagar bye-elections, any move to sack him would in turn reflect poorly on Dhinakaran, who was the candidate for the polls.
Some reports in Tamil media suggested that Dhinakaran was asked to step down as Deputy General Secretary.
Speaking to reporters following the meeting, Dhinakaran, however, denied that there was a revolt against him stating, â€śThere is no such information. It could be a rumour.â€ť
He also went on to back Vijayabaskar and denied that there were calls to drop him from the state cabinet. â€śThere was no mistake on his part. Just because there was a raid doesnâ€™t mean we need to drop him. There is no evidence against him,â€ť Dhinakaran said.
But with an FIR now registered against Kamaraj, Kadambur Raju and Udumalai Radhakrishnan, senior ministers who belong to Dhinakaranâ€™s camp, on charges of trespassing and obstructing public servants from discharging their duty, the question is will the Deputy General Secretary succumb to the mounting pressure?
As reported by TNM earlier, the RK Nagar bye-elections was a do-or-die battle for Dhinakaran, whose victory would have ensured his hold over the party. A win in the bye-polls may have also paved way for Sasikalaâ€™s nephew to replace Palaniswami as Chief Minister.
But with the RK Nagar bye-elections now cancelled, whether Dhinakaran will be able to rally support once again to quell another rebellion remains to be seen.