Chennai: It was exactly on this day two years ago J Jayalalithaa was declared dead, after 75 days of hospitalisation. Her demise, besides leaving a huge void in the Tamilnadu political arena, also paved the way for many changes in her party – All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK).
After a bitter battle following a split in the party, the united factions of Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami and Deputy CM O Panneerselvam were officially declared as the AIADMK, and the two leaves symbol, frozen by the Election Commission, was given to them. The symbol is believed to possess unique power to woo voters, thanks to the charisma of MGR and Jayalalithaa. But the 2019 Lok Sabha elections will be the real test.
Known for a strong and single leadership till 5 December 2016, the AIADMK witnessed many leaders after that. V K Sasikala was initially elected as the general secretary, Panneerselvam parted ways and claimed leadership for the AIADMK, T T V Dhinakaran came to the forefront after Sasikala went to jail following the verdict in the disproportionate assets case, Jayalalithaa’s niece Deepa Jayakumar and her husband Madhavan floated separate outfits, Sasikala’s brother Dhivakaran started a party and her nephew Baskaran popped up from nowhere. But, officially, the party and the government left behind by Jayalalithaa are now headed by Palaniswami and Panneerselvam. While EPS is the head of the government and OPS is sitting next to him, as CM and Deputy CM, respectively, the latter is the chief of the party as coordinator and the former is positioned next as joint coordinator.
TWO MEDIA ENTITIES
Since Sasikala’s family members are at the helm of Jaya TV and Dr Namadhu MGR, the two party organs till Jayalalithaa’s demise, started backing T T V Dhinakaran and his newly-floated AMMK after the split of Palaniswami and Panneerselvam. EPS and OPS, who felt the need for a dedicated media group to support the government and the party, floated News J and Namadhu Amma. More channels are expected to be launched from the stable soon.
Though there are many questions that are left unanswered, two of them haunt the minds of the AIADMK cadres big time:
1) ‘What really caused Amma’s death?’
2) ‘Will all factions of the party join hands by burying their differences to achieve victory in the upcoming elections?’