The opposition AIADMK, battered and bruised in back-to-back polls since the 2019 general elections, is trying for a make-over but the lack of unity among its top leaders, O. Panneerselvam and K. Palaniswami, is creating issues for the party.
The AIADMK, wants to bring in a high-level performance in the upcoming urban local body elections scheduled in a couple of months’ time. But there needs to be unity at the top which however is lacking in the party.
While V.K. Sasikala was expelled from the party and both Panneerselvam and Palaniswami were opposed to her entry, after the rural local body elections to the eight districts, there is a rethinking in a section of the party leadership led by Panneerselvam.
Panneerselvam and Sasikala belong to the same Thevar community which has a considerable influence in southern Tamil Nadu, the forte of the former Chief Minister, where there has been a lot of pressure from the community elders for re-entry of Sasikala into the party fold.
The recent Christmas wish of Panneerselvam calling for forgiving the past mistakes and a new beginning is being read by many as a sign of the former Chief Minister providing an extended rope to the expelled Interim General Secretary of the party to make a comeback.
However senior leaders of the AIADMK, including former ministers, D. Jayakumar and C.V. Shanmugham, have openly expressed strong opposition to Sasikala’s re-entry and said that the party does not need such leaders who had brought a bad name to the AIADMK.
The statements of these leaders, who are said to be close to Palaniswami, are considered to be with the support and blessings of the opposition leader who is totally opposed to the entry of Sasikala.
R. Padmanabhan, Director, Socio-Economic Development Foundation, a think tank based out of Madurai, while speaking to IANS said: “AIADMK is lacking a charismatic leader and there is a vacuum at the top for that. The rate at which Stalin is surging ahead is to be studied properly by the AIADMK if they need a comeback and bringing in Sasikala who knows the in and out of AIADMK politics as being a shadow and aide of former Chief Minister, late J. Jayalalithaa. I don’t think that she will take out a magic wand and bring AIADMK back to reckoning but of course, she can make a difference however little it may be.”
Sasikala has been working meticulously among the party cadres for recognition in all parts of the state. She has a team of dedicated office staff who is engaging her with the party cadres across the state as well as lower and mid-level leaders of the party to connect a direct chord with the lower strata of the party.
K.L. Muruganadan, a former leader of AIADMK from Palani in Dindigul district, told IANS: ” The AIADMK is now under lot of pressure and the party needs a different line of thinking. Sasikala if brought back to the party can infuse some charisma to the party cadres as she had the experience and exposure of being the ear and eyes of a dynamic political leader, late Chief Minister, Jayalalithaa, and this is her advantage. If party makes use of that, then AIADMK has a life and both the leader’s OPS and EPS must unite for that to bring her back to the party fold and give an impetus to the fortune of the party, otherwise, the party will have to play second fiddle to the DMK.”
The national leadership of the BJP is also contemplating to bring in Sasikala to the AIADMK and according to information from New Delhi, discussions to this count have taken place with all the stakeholders of the AIADMK, RSS, and BJP leadership of Tamil Nadu.
While most of the RSS and BJP leaders are in support of Sasikala’s re-entry, the AIADMK is still divided equally on her entry and this if not solved would create a roadblock.
With the urban local body polls being the next direct fight between the two fronts, the AIADMK needs to bring in a radical change.