THE DOOR appears to be closing on the political ambitions of T T V Dinakaran, AIADMK deputy general secretary and nephew of jailed party leader V K Sasikala, after Delhi Police registered an FIR against him for allegedly trying to bribe an Election Commission official to obtain the party’s two-leaves poll symbol.
Top sources in the AIADMK’s ruling Sasikala faction told The Indian Express they were discussing a number of scenarios to “safeguard” the party and the government in Tamil Nadu, including a possible merger with the rebel group led by former chief minister O Panneerselvam. But all options discussed, they said, had one common strand: Dinakaran must leave. “We hope that there will be a decision by Tuesday. If Dinakaran steps down, the party and its election symbol will be safe,” a senior leader of the ruling faction told The Indian Express.
Dinakaran, however, continued to maintain a brave front and denied the charges of bribery using an alleged middleman Sukesh Chandrasekhar, who was arrested from a five-star hotel in Delhi Sunday, allegedly with Rs 1.3 crore in cash. “I haven’t bribed anyone. How can I do all this? I will face it (the charge) legally if I get a summons,” he said in Chennai.
Dinakaran was the ruling faction’s candidate for the R K Nagar bypoll, which was cancelled by the Election Commission on April 9, following allegations of voters being bribed. Earlier, the commission had frozen the party’s poll symbol after both factions staked claim to it.
Paneerselvam, meanwhile, indicated that he will be open for talks on a merger. The hint was immediately welcomed by Sasikala faction leader and Lok Sabha deputy speaker M Thambidurai. “It is a good decision. We welcome it. There have been differences of opinion, but we are all united. Safeguarding the government will be the first priority,” he said.
But this route, said sources, would lead to Dinakaran’s exit. Last week, several ministers had reportedly asked Dinakaran to step down, claiming that he was the real target of the central agencies and not the party — the bypoll allegations were based on I-T searches at 35 properties of Tamil Nadu Health Minister C Vijayabaskar.
On the other side, sources in the Panneerselvam camp said they were exploring other options, too, including a large-scale defection from the ruling faction. On Monday, it also approached the Election Commission with a petition to dispose of the case relating to appointment of Sasikala as the party’s general secretary, which it had challenged.