At Large Public Rally, Dhinakaran Fights AIADMK Merger and Sasikala Ouster

Sasikala's nephew was joined by at least 23 MLAs and four MPs at the rally near Madurai.

New Delhi: While AIADMK factions led by O.P. Panneerselvam and E. Palaniswami were busy preparing themselves for a merger, and removing jailed V.K. Sasikala and her family from positions of power in the party, Sasikala’s nephew T.T.V. Dhinakaran has gathered MPs and MLAs in a show of strength and to try and stop the merger.

Dhinakaran, the (disputed) deputy general secretary of the party who has found himself sidelined recently, held a massively rally in Melur village near Madurai on Monday (August 14). He was joined by at least 23 party MLAs and four MPs on the dias, Indian Express reported. At least 25,000 people showed up to the rally, the newspaper reported, making it the largest party event since J. Jayalalithaa’s election rallies in 2016.

According to NDTV, Dhinakaran claims to have the support of at least 40 of the party’s 133 MLAs and a number of ministers. “I have a responsibility to prepare the AIADMK for Lok Sabha polls…I have a duty to unite the party,” the channel quoted him as saying.

Dhinakaran has been facing pressure from both the ‘EPS’ and ‘OPS’ factions. The OPS faction made the removal of Sasikala and her family from the party a pre-condition to any merger, and the EPS section seemed willing to go along with that. Last week, the EPS group said Dhinakaran’s election as party deputy general secretary was “not acceptable”.

“With 30 ministers, you cannot run a government. Don’t forget that it is cadres and supporters that help you win elections and form government,” Hindustan Times quoted Dhinakaran as saying at the rally. “If the MLAs were given freedom of choice, many more would have joined the rally.”

“You cannot run the party from headquarters, but have to be with the cadres and people on the ground. You were made the chief minister by Sasikala, don’t you forget that,” Dhinakaran said, alluding to Palanisami becoming head of the legislature party.

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