CHENNAI: The meeting of TNCC president S. Thirunavukkarasar with AIADMK deputy general secretary TTV Dhinakaran at the Congress leader's family function two days ago has raised hopes in Congress about possible support from a section of AIADMK legislators for the Opposition’s Presidential candidate Meira Kumar who is visiting the city on July 1.
Although Dhinakaran's visit to the marriage function of Thirunavukkarasar's daughter Amirtha and Isakki Durai, son of former AIADMK minister Isakki Subbaiah, is seen as a casual visit to a party man's family function, he was seen having separate discussions with the Congress leader for some time before he left. The meeting came two days ahead of Meira Kumar's visit to the city and after an open statement from Dhinakaran that he would toe the party general secretary VK Sasikala's line of supporting BJP candidate Ram Nath Kovind. In his statement announcing support for the BJP, Dhinakaran had said he had taken the decision following the orders of Sasikala, in a bid to distance himself from the move.
Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami had announced the party's support for BJP even before the announcement of Meira Kumar's candidature and similar declaration by former Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam came a day later. Initially, there were questions from Dhinakaran's supporters if the decision was endorsed by Sasikala. Later, the statement of support came from Dhinakaran and Lok Sabha deputy speaker M. Thambidurai said the party would support the BJP and pointed out that Congress had not sought its support.
Congress functionaries are keen to know if the discussion between Thirunavukkarasar and Dhinakaran would be a precursor to secret parleys seeking AIADMK support for Meira Kumar's candidature. Initially, Meira Kumar was scheduled to meet the MPs and MLAs from Tamil Nadu at party headquarters Sathyamurthy Bhavan, but the venue had been shifted to a hotel at Raja Annamalaipuram, considered to be a neutral venue.
No whip is issued in the Presidential elections and the Opposition leaders had appealed for conscience vote from AIADMK members. If there is cross-voting from the AIADMK or not could be ascertained only after the outcome of the Presidential elections. However, a small amount of cross voting is unlikely to hit the prospects of BJP, which had ensured support for its candidate from two factions of the AIADMK, besides Janata Dal (U), TRS and YSR Congress....