'Mannargudi Mafia'? In Raids In TTV Dinakaran Case, Links To His Village


TTV Dinakaran allegedly paid crores to a Delhi hawala operator to buy a party symbol for the AIADMK

New Delhi: 


  1. TTV Dinakaran is nephew of AIADMK chief VK Sasikala, who is in jail
  2. He's been arrested for attempting to bribe Election Commission officials
  3. Sasikala clan referred to by critics as "Mannargudi Mafia"
To prove that TTV Dinakaran, who was sidelined as the No 2 of Tamil Nadu's ruling party ten days ago, illicitly transferred crores to Delhi to buy the party symbol, the Delhi Police is in Chennai and this morning searched the home of a retired government officer who belongs to the village of Mannargudi. Mr Dinakaran and his relatives are referred to disparagingly as the Mannargudi Mafia, owing to their provenance and their alleged  anchoring of various scams over the years, which has been linked to their political proximity to former Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, who died in December.

Her live-in aide for years, the person who she treated as next-of-kin, having been estranged from her own family, was VK Sasikala, a video cassette seller who she met in the 80s. Ms Jayalalithaa was "Amma" or mother to her party and supporters, Ms Sasikala was "Chinamma" (mother's younger sister). Mr Dinakaran is among Ms Sasikala's relatives who, for a while, moved into Ms Jayalalithaa's residence, only to be evicted from both the mansion and the party in 2012 after the Chief Minister decided they were harming her reputation and attempting to influence the appointments of government officials.

Ms Sasikala renounced her nephews and husband to be readmitted to Ms Jayalalithaa's home a few months later. But when the Chief Minister died in December, and the AIADMK automatically turned to her for direction, she quickly surrounded herself with the relatives she had disowned. The Supreme Court stymied her moves to become Chief Minister by sentencing her to jail for a decades-old corruption case that included Ms Jayalalithaa, but before her incarceration, Ms Sasikala made Mr Dinakaran her deputy and placed another loyalist, E Palaniswami - EPS - as Chief Minister.

All this led to an uncharacteristic push-back from O Panneerselvam, who filled in regularly as Chief Minister for Ms Jayalalithaa when she was alive, and was asked to do the same briefly after her death. OPS, as he is known, has accumulated a rival faction which is small - 12 members as compared to nearly 120 for the EPS faction - but has not been easy to write off. The two wings are now negotiating for a merger though who will be Chief Minister (both EPS and OPS want the job) is preventing quick progress.

The attempted reconciliation is triggered by the public anger over the "Mannargudi Mafia" being given control of the AIADMK as well as Mr Dinakaran featuring in two scandals. The election to Ms Jayalalithaa's constituency, which he was contesting, was cancelled after there was evidence of voters being bribed, and then a young entrepreneur with a long trail of criminal cases arrested in Delhi reportedly told the police that he had been given crores in cash by Mr Dinakaran to buy the AIADMK's  two-leaves symbol. Mr Dinakaran has denied any wrong doing, claiming that he has never heard of the officer who claims to be representing him.

A party's symbol, used by voters to identify a party, is a whopper of an asset; in the AIADMK's case, it has been declared out-of-use till the Election Commission decides which of the two wings of the AIADMK should be recognized as the actual party - the other will be considered a spin off.

Mr Dinakaran was arrested earlier this week. In Delhi where he had been summoned for interrogation and was brought to Chennai yesterday to assist the police in compiling evidence in the case against him, which includes charges of money-laundering to transfer vast amounts of untaxed cash to Delhi for the alleged intended payoff.

Sources say that the case against Mr Dinakaran is based largely on audio tapes, the details of which have not been shared by the police in court so far. He has blamed the BJP of using its authority at the centre to persecute him in an attempt to give the upper hand to OPS, who, according to some AIADMK leaders, enjoys the backing of the BJP which is looking to gain an opening - possibly through him - in Tamil Nadu. BJP leaders have refuted that theory.

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