It was a major show of strength for ‘ousted’ AIADMK (Amma) General Secretary TTV Dhinakaran at Madurai on Monday. While 20 MLAs paraded before the cameras, the venue at Melur saw over 20,000 supporters, in what has come as a major shot in the arm for Dhinakaran even as the AIADMK factions led by Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami and former CM O Panneerselvam appear closer to a merger.
TTV Dhinakaran took the stage as an opportunity to announce that he was late Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa's true heir.
In what has become an all-too-familiar routine for the AIADMK, Dhinakaran’s arrival onto the stage was a spectacle that was reminiscent of the welcome Jayalalithaa often received. While TTV’s car had flower petals thrown onto its bonnet, party supporters surrounded his vehicle as he was entered the venue to founder MGR’s songs.
Image courtesy: Jaya TV screengrab
When he did reach the stage, Dhinakaran let loose a scathing attack against the ruling government and even took potshots at the DMK. For the ousted Deputy General Secretary, this rally proved to be an attempt to appropriate the legacy of Jayalalithaa.
"I am the true heir of Amma. In 2000, she wanted to make me the Youth secretary and get me to tour the entire state," thundered TTV.
With the OPS faction demanding the removal of the Sasikala family from the AIADMK as a condition for the merger, Dhinakaran noted, "If Chinamma wanted she could have become Chief Minister the day that Amma passed away. But she did not. You know who she appointed instead. On February 14, due to a difficult situation, she could not take over as CM and she handed over the mantle again. Even then she could have made me or anybody else in the family the CM. But we don't care about power."
While 20 MLAs appeared on the stage in Melur, Dhinakaran accused EPS of attempting hiding some of the AIADMK legislators so that they failed to attend the meeting.
“MLAs might have not come here due to various reasons but all of them are here with us in spirit. MLAs have come here at their own will. No one has compelled them. No money was given to allure them. In fact some MLAs have been hidden so that they don't attend this meeting,” Dhinakaran alleged.
Ahead of the meeting, three independent MLAs U Thaniyarasu, S Karunas and Thameemun Ansari extended support to Dhinakaran.
TTV, however, denied that the meeting was called to topple the government, and accused some of spreading false propaganda. Appealing to the party cadre, TTV said, “We have to retrieve our two leaves symbol. We have duty to win in a huge manner in Lok Sabha polls. We have responsibility of strengthening the party.”
Accusing the EPS faction of deciding the fate of thousands of party cadre, Dhinakaran said, “27 people sitting in AIADMK HQ in Chennai cannot decide fate of party. When you have filed an affidavit at the Election Commission stating that Sasikala is General Secretary and I am Deputy General Secertary. Then why has there been a resolution against me? It's not legal. It is done to confuse party cadres. Under whose pressure they passed that resolution?”
TTV also reminded his supporters that he had been in the party since 1987 and that most of the MLAs and ministers were identified by him. While accusing the BJP of attempting to gain power in Tamil Nadu through the backdoor, Dhinakaran also urged the AIADMK MLAs to not be afraid. “I urge MLAs not to be afraid. Work in the interest of people of TN. This is our govt. Ministers are servants of people. Don't think of yourself as bosses. Work for the welfare of your constituency. Don't indulge in hiding MLAs. Why are you afraid of MLAs attend this meeting?” hit out TTV.
The former Rajya Sabha MP also lashed out at former CM O Panneerselvam and his “dharma yudham”. “Those people who demand a CBI enquiry on Jayalalithaa’s death should first realise they were same people who were in important positions when she was hospitalized,” said TTV, even as he welcomed a CBI probe into the late CM’s death. “Let people know the truth. We will also cooperate, we are not afraid.”