As the clashes between AIADMK (Amma) deputy general secretary T.T.V. Dhinakaran and Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami widened, five more legislators met Mr. Dhinakaran at his residence and expressed solidarity with him, taking the number of MLAs supporting him to 32.
Significantly, Dairy Development Minister K.T. Rajenthra Bhalaji went on record saying there was nothing wrong in legislators meeting Mr. Dhinakaran. Responding to questions from journalists, he said, “There is nothing wrong in our MLAs calling on Mr. Dhinakaran, who is the deputy general secretary of the party.” Asked who the party’s leader was, he responded, “only Chinnamma (jailed general secretary V.K. Sasikala).”
Mr. Bhalaji’s endorsement of MLAs meeting with Mr. Dhinakaran was in contrast to the earlier appeal made by his senior cabinet colleague and Finance Minister D Jayakumar to party cadres not to have any association with the “sidelined” deputy general secretary or his family members. Mr. Jayakumar had made the appeal after a meeting of around 20 ministers and senior party functionaries chaired by him had unanimously decided to reiterate their opposition to Mr. Dhinakaran or his associates playing any active role in the party or the government.
However, MLAs supporting Mr. Dhinakaran said they would not withdraw support to Mr. Palaniswami’s government. Likewise, Mr. O Panneerselvam, leader of the AIADMK (PTA), said his party would not be responsible for the fall of the government.
Tiruparankundram MLA A.K. Bose, who called on Mr. Dhinakaran, hit out at ministers for seeking to sideline the latter. “The ministers don’t have any right to talk about party affairs. They can only talk about their respective departments. Only the general secretary has the authority to talk about party affairs,” he said after meeting Mr. Dhinakaran at his residence.
Electricity Minister P. Thangamani addressed the media that despite 32 MLAs extending support to Mr. Dhinakaran “there is no threat to the government”.
Meanwhile, the State cabinet is scheduled to meet at 3 p.m. on Thursday ahead of the start of the Assembly session on June 14. Observers say the fissures in the AIADMK may well play out on the floor of the legislature.