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Two leaves merged?
To the common man, the AIADMK party was always a blend of two antipodes. Divided or not, the public has been losing faith in AIADMK. The real winner in the turmoil is the BJP. With a reshuffle in the Union Cabinet on the cards, the AIADMK may be invited to join the national mainstream. With that, the BJP would have completed a bloodless coup.

Ex-Chief Minister, J Jayalalithaa, was the glue that held them together. Hence on the death of their iconic leader, it was presumed that the loyalists would make bold to oust the mafia. But that was not to be. Despite public hatred, the latter found takers within the party, and it took the former over 250 days to expel the antagonists. 

 

Why the delay of the inevitable? 

It started when Sasikala affixed herself beside Jayalalithaa coffin, much like her Akka did when MGR passed away. After a calculated short stint of chief ministership handed out to a veteran, O Panneerselvam (OPS), the Sasikala clan had made all arrangements for her ascendancy to take over the chair. When at striking distance, the unfolding of two events decelerated and eventually halted her aspirations: one, OPS's meditation at Jaya's Samadhi and the eventual revolt; two, the sentencing by the Supreme Court in the DA case that put her ambitions behind bars. 

She didn't take it lying down. In a bid to pull strings from inside the Bangalore jail where the court had banished her, Chinamma appointed her nephew TTV Dhinakaran as deputy general secretary of the party and Edappadi Palaniswami (EPS) as the chief minister of the state. OPS, meanwhile, appealed to the loyalty of the party cadres and called out for the ouster of Sasikala. Ma Foi Pandiarajan, former top cop R Nataraj, and a few other senior AIADMK leaders started the exodus towards OPS. 

 

Unity restored 

While rhetorical talks of merger hit the media every while, the matter assumed significance only after the election commission froze the "two leaves' symbol of the AIAMDK. After TTV's reported clumsy attempt at bribing officials to retrieve the party symbol backfired, the factions got into talks of a merger. 

The rebel camp placed several demands. Although the ruling faction was initially rigid, over the next four months they met all the claims. They cancelled the appointment of TTV Dhinakaran, ordered a probe into Jaya's death, set out to convert her residence into a memorial and agreed upon the ouster of Sasikala Natarajan from the party. 

EPS offered the posts of deputy chief ministership and party convener to OPS. One thought that OPS would not like to work as an understudy to EPS given his experience as a three-term CM. But then power does strange things to people. An 11-member committee will head the party. EPS will be the co- convener. There is too much of power sharing, and we haven't heard the last word yet. 

Dhinakaran has not let the marginalisation of his family pass. He along with 19 MLAs met the Governor and withdrew support to EPS. The united AIADMK now needs a few more MLAs to ensure the government does not fall. A second no confidence motion can be moved only in October and so the government has a couple of months to play its cards well even as DMK’s M K Stalin watches from the sidelines. 

 

Whose gain? 

Divided or not, the public has been losing faith in AIADMK. The real winner in the turmoil is the BJP. By playing umpire to the merger, via RSS ideologue S. Gurumurthy, they have gained power in Tamil Nadu, and the extra numbers to reach closer to the magical figure of 123 in Rajya Sabha. With a reshuffle in the Union cabinet on the cards, the AIADMK may be invited to join the national mainstream. With that, the BJP would have completed a bloodless coup.

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