Tamil Nadu Election 2021: Ahead of Sasikala’s release, talks begin on merger of Dhinakaran-led AMMK with AIADMK

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January 19, 2021 12:32 PM

Founded in 2018, the AMMK is being headed by Dhinakaran. The BJP and AIADMK want Dhinakaran to either merge or ally with the ruling alliance to get some minority votes in the state.

Tamil Nadu assembly elections are expected to take place in March-April this year.

Tamil Nadu Election 2021: Talks of a possible merger of the Dhinakaran-led AMMK into AIADMK have once again taken centre stage with the release of Sasikala just a week away. Tamil Nadu chief minister Edappadi K Palaniswami is in Delhi to officially invite Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the inauguration of the newly-built Jayalalithaa Memorial in Chennai. However, reports suggest that the chief minister is expected to discuss the merger with the BJP, which is part of the alliance in the state.

The Indian Express, citing sources, reports that Palaniswami in his meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah is expected to discuss the political scenarios evolving in the state. A BJP leader told the national daily that the election seat-sharing, alliance strengthening were pending for discussion and Sasikala’s nephew TTV Dhinakaran had also expressed his willingness to join the AIADMK. “…our leadership had a view that we should consider all possible options to make the alliance stronger,” the leader said.

Founded in 2018, the AMMK is being headed by Dhinakaran. The BJP and AIADMK want Dhinakaran to either merge or ally with the ruling alliance to get some minority votes in the state. An AIADMK minister said that the ruling alliance needs to strengthen its secular front. He further said that having BJP in the alliance means they will lose minority votes but getting Dhinakaran on board will bring back a sizable chunk of minority votes. In the 2019 election, Dhinakaran had secured 4 per cent of minority votes which is equal to 15 per cent of AIADMK’s Muslim votes.

Discussing developments so far, a ruling party minister said that Dhinakaran did not directly approach AIADMK but talks were happening through BJP. He said that it could be either the Sasikala faction joining AIADMK with significant posts or their AMMK joining the alliance. Dhinakaran, as per the report, has asked for 30 seats in case of alliance with AIADMK and BJP. And if both ousted leaders – Dhinakaran and Sasikala – are taken back, then their demand is for key party posts. After serving a 4-year sentence in a disproportionate assets case, Sasikala is expected to be released from prison later this month.

This is the second time such talks are happening at the highest level with the BJP in Delhi. Last year in September, Dhinakaran had met the top BJP leaders and it was reported that the AMMK chief had been promised ‘earliest release’ of Sasikala if the talks were fruitful. Dhinakaran, as per reports then, had demanded that his aunt Sasikala be made the general secretary and he be given a key post. It was also thought that Palaniswami and Paneerselvam could continue as CM and Deputy CM while party affairs could be passed on to Sasikala. A senior AIADMK minister had then said that the proposed division of powers would be agreeable to most party members, and that the BJP leadership had been pressing for a merger for more than a year now.

Tamil Nadu assembly elections are expected to take place in March-April this year.

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