Amma the Eternal Leader, Special Power of Attorney With EPS-OPS
Jayalalithaa is the name of the game when it comes to the EPS-OPS formula for political survival.
File photo of Tamil Nadu CM E Palaniswami and DMK chief O Panneerselvam. (PTI Photo)
New Delhi: The theatre of the absurd is complete. Politics in Tamil Nadu has just crossed the line, from the real to the surreal, from the living to the dead.
The AIADMK faction of E Palaniswami and O Paneerselvam on Tuesday presided over a faction-ridden meeting of the party general council. The objective was to remove VK Sasikala and her nephew TTV Dinakaran from the posts of general secretary and the deputy.
The EPS-OPS duo hit upon a simple idea. They made Jayalalithaa the “eternal” general secretary. The understanding is that nobody else can ever be general secretary. If there is no general secretary, there is no deputy general secretary either! Goodbye, Sasikala and Dinakaran.
The reasoning is logical, but also absurd: Jayalalithaa has been dead for some time now! Not that such fine distinctions of life and death matter to the duo which is intent on following their survival course to the T. So what? Take Amma’s name, nobody will question you — that’s the name of the game.
The Chief Minister and his deputy seem satisfied with the outcome of the General Council meeting. They may now approach the Election Commission to say that the party symbol be allotted to their now-merged faction on the ground that they had just organised a meeting of the General Council. In the meanwhile, they will continue to try and wean away the 19 legislators who are with Dinakaran.
But life of the living and the real is not so rosy, and easy. There are many ifs and buts.
How many General Council members actually exist? How many of them are with the duo? How many with Dinakaran? Dinakaran had asked his supporters not to attend the meeting. How many attended? Who checked that those attending were genuine members? A figure of over 1,100 was being floated. Did that figure satisfy the quorum? Who will answer these questions? Nobody.
Who is the leader of the AIADMK? Till now, the leader held the post of general secretary. Is Jayalalithaa the leader? Since she cannot be present in person for reasons known to God, has she given the power of attorney to either EPS or OPS? The Madras High Court hearing the dispute will also be looking into these issues closely. Whatever be the decisions of the general council, the court will consider them at its next hearing on October 23.
The Election Commission would, similarly, also be taking stock. The fact is not lost on the ruling duo that when OPS originally approached the EC to freeze the symbol, the respondent in the case was Sasikala, the then interim general secretary. If the EPS and OPS factions now approach the EC to withdraw their petitions, the symbol issue will become uncontested and the symbol may go to the original and legal respondent, which is Sasikala. What happens then?
Beyond these hurdles is the Dinakaran factor. He is party to the election symbol dispute with the EC. The duo cannot think of getting the symbol back so long as his petition is pending. The Dinakaran faction will not take the ouster of Sasikala lying down. It will be challenged in the coming days, adding to the already muddled party affairs.
On top of all this is the fate of the government. The state has a part-time governor. The state is ruled by a party which is not united, is leaderless — or has a dead leader — and refuses to take a floor test. The state assembly seems to be in a state of de facto suspended animation. What can be more chaotic than this? And for what?
The EPS-OPS government does not have a majority. Simple arithmetic reveals this fact. The opposing AIADMK faction with 19 MLAs has withdrawn support.
The opposition DMK has asked the Governor to convene the Assembly for a floor test. But the governor is not taking a decision. The last session of the state assembly met in July; that means the House need not convene till six months — that’s in January, 2018. The time it takes for the governor to decide is also the time the EPS-OPS duo has to somehow wean away as many of the 19 MLAs with Dinakaran. Or, arrive at a patch-up with Dinakaran – unconceivable as on date. Today’s general council resolutions may boost the efforts, the duo feels.
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