Chennai: The AIADMK reunion moves suffered a setback on Thursday with the rival factions flinging charges against each other while opposition DMK leader M. K. Stalin slammed them both as repositories of high corruption that are “now trying hard to stay together to loot more”. Leading the attack from the OPS camp, former minister K. P. Munusamy said there was no scope for negotiations unless the 9-member negotiation team in the Edappadi group announced the expulsion of Sasikala and Dhinakaran besides informing the Election Commission about the action. Not just those two but every member of their family should be ejected from the party. “And following the practice set by Amma (Jayalalithaa) while taking action against anyone, they (Edappadi team) should announce that none from the party should contact any member of the Sasikala family”, he said at a crowded press conference just after participating in a meeting of seniors convened by OPS at his house.
It was evident from Munusamy’s outburst that the OPS camp is pretty upset with some of the outlandish statements that came from the rival group. “How could (finance minister) Jayakumar say in flippant manner that OPS will also claim credit for Donald Trump? That smacks of immaturity”, Munusamy said looking very angry. His colleagues gathered around him were in full agreement.
Perhaps their anger was justified as Jayakumar had earlier blasted OPS for saying that the ‘sansyas’ announcement by TTV Dhinakaran was the “first victory” in his ‘dharma yudham’. “We did not expel the Sasikala family because of OPS’s compulsion but only because the party cadres wanted it. Why, OPS would even take credit for Trump’s victory!” Jayakumar had said Thursday morning.
Not just that; he got more aggressive later. “OPS does not have a single district secretary with him. He has just a few MLAs. He is speaking like a man aspiring to scale the skies to grab heaven when he cannot even climb a hut to catch a hen”, was Jayakumar's rhetoric before the TV cameras late evening. If Jayakumar poked fun at OPS, Munusamy rubbished the status of Edappadi Palanisami as Chief Minister saying he was holding the position thanks to Sasikala and her family and not because of his public standing. “Edappadi became the CM only after Sasikala threatened the 122 party MLAs held in Koovathur. In truth, he is not the CM of the AIADMK or the people; he is the CM of Sasikala's family”, Munusamy said even as colleagues applauded him.
His wrath also turned towards LS Deputy Speaker M. Thambidurai who had stated on Wednesday that there was no question of Edappadi stepping down as CM (in favour of OPS). “Who is Thambidurai to say these things? Nobody cares for him, no MLA accompanies him anywhere. Besides, we have not demanded either the CM's post or the GS position”, Munusamy thundered.
The Edappadi camp too had a few hard statements targeting the 'rival' group at media conferences. Lok Sabha member R. Vaithilingam was the main spokesman before the TV cameras while Minister C. V. Shanmugam lent robust support. “It's they who had moved the Election Commission and got the 'Two Leaves' symbol frozen, so they must withdraw their petition and redeem the symbol. As for OPS's demand for probe into Amma's (Jayalalithaa's) death, OPS must know the truth. Besides there is a PIL on this issue pending in the high court”.
As sparks continue to fly to and fro between the warring AIADMK factions, there is now rising speculation that this bloodletting will lead to instability in the ruling party and bring early midterm polls. The DMK would be the biggest gainer in that case and its ally Congress could improve its stock -- something that the BJP leaders in Delhi would hate to see happen. “And so you can expect that the BJP will tell these squabbling faction lords to stop bickering and ensure that the government lasts its full term. After all, there is plenty of ammunition against many of the AIADMK seniors available with the central agencies”, said a party senior who has been “aloof from these tensions” for a while now....