GET Stock QuotesNews18 APP
News18 English
» » India

Getting Rid of Sasikala Not as Easy as Merger

VVP Sharma @vvemuri

Updated: August 21, 2017, 5:54 PM IST
facebook Twitter google skype whatsapp
Getting Rid of Sasikala Not as Easy as Merger
File photo of Sasikala.
Did you notice one thing? The OPS and EPS factions of the AIADMK "merged" this afternoon, but it was a cool affair. The usual Tamil exuberance that goes with momentous political actions was missing. The merger announcement passed off as more of a media event than a party’s celebratory affair.

Therein lies the real tale. Until she is there, as temporary general secretary, the two cannot have a peaceful wink.

And Sasikala, despite being jail in Bengaluru, has a firm grip over the third, unmerged faction of the AIADMK – the 20-odd MLAs led by TTV Dinakaran. That number plus money power is enough to threaten the OPS-EPS duo on the floor of the Tamil Nadu assembly any day.

For the duo, the biggest question is how to get rid of Sasikala. It is not easy at all.

Let’s see why.

It was on December 29, 2016 that the party’s general council appointed Sasikala as general secretary. It was a temporary appointment. It was said she will have to win an election sometime in the future. What did the resolution say? "This general council adopts this resolution appointing Chinnamma VK Sasikala as the party general secretary till such time she is (formally) elected to that post in tune with party rule 20, clause 2."

Moreover, the council entrusted her with “all the powers bestowed on the position of general secretary (by the party rules) to administer the party”.

She couldn’t become permanent general secretary for two reasons. One, the party constitution bars anyone with less than five years membership from being elected general secretary. Sasikala, expelled by Jayalalithaa in 2011, returned to the party fold in 2012 and had not completed five years when the general council met. Second, the general council is a policy making body; while the primary members elect the party general secretary.

The election eluded her as she went to jail in 2017. The OPS faction contested her appointment before the Election Commission on the ground that she was chosen by the general council as the general secretary and not by the primary members. It asked the Commission not to okay her appointment.

Now, for her to be removed from the post, a general council needs to be convened. But it is easier said than done. Neither OPS nor EPS has the stature and clout to control the general council, which has over 2,000 members. Both realize they may control the government and the upper echelons of the AIADMK, but their influence does not trickle down to the lower levels. In fact, the reaction of the cadres to the happenings in the last couple of days is not supportive of the actions by EPS and OPS.

The cadres, by and large, still feel that Sasikala was betrayed. She made OPS chief minister, he turned against her. She made EPS chief minister out of nowhere and he too turned against her. IN EPS’ case, it’s worse because without Sasikala taking matters into her hands, he would never have become CM. It was she who had herded the MLAs to a resort; it was she who made all arrangements at the resort; it was she who personally spent time there talking to the MLAs. Her supporters see today’s “merger” as a “betrayal”. The coincidence of CCTV footage from inside the Bengaluru jail showing Sasikala walking into the jail from outside being released hours before the merger is not lost on the supporters.

So, even if EPS and OPS convene a general council, it is not a cake walk for them. They won’t be able to control the meeting, which can turn into a blood bath, so to say. They will need some other weapon to expel Sasikala. One such is the Election Commission, if it finds that the appointment of Sasikala as temporary general secretary is ultra vires the party constitution. But even then, the decision can be challenged in court. Her supporters will not lie low in a general council meeting either. And remember, all the while, she has a potent weapon in the form of TTV Dinakaran and the MLAs supporting him.

This affair is going to drag on, even as the AIADMK, going by the happenings in the last two days, is fast becoming a rudderless entity.
First Published: August 21, 2017, 5:49 PM IST

Live TV