Rebel All India Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) leader TTV Dinakaran officially launched his party in Madurai district on Thursday adding to the growing number of parties in the fractured political landscape of Tamil Nadu.
At a massive public event at Melur, Dinakaran unveiled his party’s name and the flag. Dinakaran’s faction will rally under Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam (AMMK). The name points at the 54-year-old leader’s claim that he is the rightful heir to Jayalalithaa’s legacy in Tamil Nadu.
The flag has the image of Jayalalithaa on three bands of black white and red – the colours of most Dravidian parties.
Dinakaran decided to launch his own party after a court battle over the two-leaf symbol of the AIADMK.
He had in December 2017 won from Jayalalithaa’s RK Nagar constituency as an Independent candidate using a temporary election symbol, the pressure cooker, for the by-polls. Dinakaran said that the symbol will be used by his party for the time being.
Thousands marched with Dinakaran as he approached the venue hinting at his clout in the state.
“The massive victory at RK Nagar is a testimony that I am the true leader after Amma,” Dinakaran said thanking the people for turning up in such large numbers for the unveiling of the party name and flag.
“My party will bring about glory in Tamil Nadu and bring back Amma’s government in the state,” he said adding that the name was selected by the members of the party.
Before his fallout with AIADMK, Dinakaran served as deputy general secretary of the party. He was nominated to the post by his aunt VK Sasikala before she was jailed for four years in a disproportionate assets case.
Huge cutouts of MG Ramachandran, the founder of AIADMK, Jayalalithaa and Sasikala could be seen overlooking the massive crowd at the venue.
The formation of AMMK comes weeks after Kamal Haasan launched Makkal Needhi Maiam (MNM) from Madurai. The actor-turned-politician has been touring the state ever since the formation of his party and addressing public events attended by huge crowds of supporters.
Haasan has promised to bring in a “change” in Tamil Nadu’s political image and stay away from “communal politics”.
“They are asking us whether we are Left or Right. That’s why put a ‘Centre’ in our flag. We will follow in the footsteps of the likes of the Justice Party (of pre-Independence India),” he said at the inaugural address on 21 February.
Superstar Rajinikanth, too, has expressed his desire to join politics though he is yet to formally take the plunge.
AIADMK is currently headed by Jayalalithaa loyalist O Panneerselvam, who is also the deputy Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu. Chief Minister E Palaniswami is the joint coordinator of the party.