- Dinakaran is running AIADMK while aunt Sasikala is in jail
- He is named in corruption scams, prompting calls for his removal
- Sasikala faction of AIADMK now seeks merger with rival Panneerselvam
TTV Dinakaran, who is the centrifugal force for the political crisis in Tamil Nadu, "welcomes" the prospect of a merger of the two estranged teams of Tamil Nadu's ruling party, said ministers who met him this morning. Mr Dinakran appears to have little choice but to go along with the plan, given that his removal as the party's Deputy Chief is being mooted by several top leaders of the AIADMK who feel that his name-checking in various corruption scandals is diminishing the standing of the party.
Mr Dinakaran, 53, is leading the AIADMK on behalf of his aunt, VK Sasikala, who is doing time in Bengaluru for corruption. He regularly meets her in prison to brief her on political developments. This week, he will have a lot to disclose. For one, he has been charged with attempting to bribe officials of the Election Commission. For another, the camp of the AIADMK that has so far been loyal to Ms Sasikala appears to be shifting away from her and towards her rival, O Paneerselvam aka OPS. Talks for a reconciliation have begun - with special focus on Ms Sasiakala and her relative.
"There can be no dialogue with Sasikala's family in the picture... the party should not be in the hands of one family," said OPS today, accusing the jailed AIADMK chief and her nephew of "mistake after mistake".
A little history - Ms Sasikala lived with J Jayalalithaa, the powerful and charismatic AIADMK boss who died while she was Chief Minister in December. The AIADMK, a party nurtured in unquestioning obedience, quickly accepted Ms Sasikala as its new power centre. OPS was made Chief Minister in keeping with a long tradition of filling in for Ms Jayalalithaa. And then Ms Sasikala overplayed her hand by deciding to become Chief Minister herself.
Mr Paneersevlam refused to quit and then the Supreme Court in February ordered Ms Sasikala, 60, to four years in prison for alleged corruption during Ms Jayalalithaa's first term as Chief Minister in the early 90s.
Mr Dinakaran, whose link to corruption swindles is something of a trademark, was named in two biggies - attempting to "buy" the party symbol and indirectly orchestrating payouts to voters to elect him as the legislator from Ms Jayalalithaa's constituency.
That amplified calls for him to be sacked and ministers met late last night to initiate talks with OPS and company. However, a compromise has to negotiate the tricky question of whether OPS will be made Chief Minister if the AIADMK settles its differences. Sources say that if not, he may be compensated by being made the General Secretary of the party -the post currently held by Ms Sasikala.