Upping the ante in his fight against the ruling establishment, sidelined AIADMK deputy general secretary TTV Dhinakaran today removed Tamil Nadu Chief Minister K Palaniswami from the post of party’s Salem District Secretary. In a party release here, Dhinkaran, fighting to assert his supremacy in the wake of recent merger of two AIADMK factions, announced Palaniswami was relieved from his post of Salem Suburban District Secretary effective today. Palaniswami is also the party’s headquarters secretary but there is no mention about it in Dhinakaran’s release. Dhinakaran has been sacking several party functionaries, especially district secretaries, a key post in the Dravidian parties’ hierarchy, and replacing them with his supporters ever since the merger of AIADMK factions led by Palaniswami and former chief minister O Panneerselvam on August 21. After the merger, it has been announced that steps would be taken to expel jailed party general secretary and Dhinakaran’s aunt V K Sasikala from the party.
The ruling establishment leaders have also been maintaining that Dhinakaran has no powers to carry out the changes and questioned his re-induction into the party by Sasikala. With his latest action, Dhinakaran seeks to convey that he is determined to take on even the Chief Minister for their opposition to Sasikala. He said Salem Suburban District Secretary and former MLA S K Selvam will replace Palaniswami as the district secretary. “Party cadres are asked to extend their cooperation to Selvam,” he said. Dhinakaran, sidelined by the Palainiswami camp in April last, added that the announcement was being made with the “approval” of Sasikala, who is serving her jail term in a Bengaluru prison in a corruption case. Dhinakaran had yesterday relieved Government Chief Whip S Rajendran from the post of Ariyalur District Secretary days after he wrote to Assembly Speaker P Dhanapal seeking action against 19 MLAs loyal to him.
The MLAs had last week met Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao and expressed their lack of confidence in Palaniswami and sought to replace him, triggering demands by opposition parties, including DMK, for a direction to the Chief Minister to prove his majority in the assembly. Later, two more AIADMK MLAs have supported the pro-Dhinakaran group, boosting its strength to 21 and all of them are now camping in a star hotel in Puducherry.