- Lawmakers wanted key role for TTV Dinakaran: sources
- Mr Dinakaran was made AIADMK deputy chief by aunt VK Sasikala
- Chief Minister Palaniswami's faction has 122 legislators on its side
The demand in Tamil Nadu capital Chennai was voiced by the legislators around the same time that TTV Dinakaran was on his way back from a Bengaluru jail 325 km away after meeting Sasikala. This was his second trip to Bengaluru in 10 days, reportedly to consult his aunt on how he should claw his way up.
It was after his first meeting on June 5 that Mr Dinakaran, 53, started meeting AIADMK legislators to seek their support.
Within two days, he had about 20 legislators at his Chennai house to listen to him. Over the next one week, this figure appears to have risen to 30; the ones who called on Chief Minister Palaniswami today.
Sources told NDTV that the legislators wanted a key role for Mr Dinakaran who was sidelined to attempt a reunion with a rebel faction led by O Panneerselvam whose main condition for a merger was that Sasikala and Dinakaran be kept away from the party and the government. The merger talks, however, have broken down.
It is not clear if how far the 30 legislators are willing to go for Mr Dinakaran but should they want, they can give Chief Minister Palaniswami sleepless nights. The Chief Minister's faction that rules Tamil Nadu has 122 legislators on its side, just five more than the half-way mark in the assembly while about a dozen lawmakers are in the O Panneerselvam camp.
For now, an AIADMK source close to Mr Dinakaran told NDTV that they had no intention to bring down the government. "It is Amma's government," he said, a reference to AIADMK matriarch and former Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, popularly called Amma (mother). The leader added that they "did not intend to disturb Mr Palaniswami's position as Chief Minister" but were clear that "Mr Dinakaran should be in control of the party".
Mr Dinakaran, who had earlier agreed to step back in the party's interest, tried to get back his chair in the party after his release from Delhi's Tihar jail earlier this month. "Only the General Secretary (Sasikala) has the right to expel anyone," he told reporters moments after stepping out of jail. He had been arrested by Delhi Police on allegations that he tried to bribe Election Commission officers to get the AIADMK poll symbol, claimed by the rival faction led by O Panneerselvam.
A few days later, he told NDTV that he was still the deputy general secretary of AIADMK. "My return from jail is a comeback," Mr Dinakaran said, making it clear that he had no intention of retreating into the shadows. He also did not rule out making a play for the post of Chief Minister.