Chennai: The O. Panneerselvam versus V.K. Sasikala face-off may reach a climax in the next few days but one party that stands to gain—even if not immediately—is the main opposition Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK).
Though Panneerselvam is gaining popular support as public anger against Sasikala is growing, neither factions can provide stability to the Tamil Nadu government and it will be advantage DMK in the course of time, according to analysts.
Tamil Nadu’s politics is in animated suspension with the governor Ch. Vidyasagar Rao unwilling to take a decision and the ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) in all likelihood headed towards a split.
The DMK has called for a crucial high-level executive committee meeting on Monday evening at its party headquarters in Chennai amid the unfolding political drama within the rival AIADMK.
“Definitely, the DMK is waiting in the wings. Though there are issues within the DMK, I don’t see anyone else emerging as strong as the DMK at this stage as the endgame nears in the AIADMK,” said Ramu Manivannan, professor and head of the department of Politics & Public Administration at University of Madras.
It is by default a favourable situation for the DMK, which has 89 seats in the 234-member Tamil Nadu assembly. Last week, M.K. Stalin, the DMK working president and leader of the Opposition,said, “We will react to the issue democratically. We lost the assembly election by just 1.1% vote share.”
“Right now the DMK is not in the picture. But if there is a vertical split in the AIADMK, then the DMK enjoys an edge,” said N. Sathiya Moorthy, director of Delhi-based think-tank, Observer Research Foundation’s Chennai chapter.
But, if a situation like this emerges, it will create internal ruckus , “for the disintegrated AIADMK group as well as the DMK party which is trying to stabilize and control the hold under Stalin’s leadership”, said Moorthy.
For now, considering Sasikala’s allegations that the DMK is trying to split the AIADMK, the opposition would wait for the crisis to unravel on its own.
“At this stage, if there is a floor test in the assembly, then the DMK will definitely not support Sasikala and at the same time we cannot back O. Panneerselvam’s side too. We will have to wait and watch on how things unfold and which would be favourable for us. It’s too early and tricky as it depends on what the governor decides. In the long run it is an advantageous situation for the DMK,” said a senior DMK leader.
The possible way for the impasse to reach its crescendo is the Supreme Court verdict on the disproportionate assets (DA) case, which is expected to be delivered in the next couple of days. Sasikala is the second accused in the DA case after late chief minister J. Jayalalithaa and probably for which governor Rao seems to be waiting.
But it need not be the end of it, said analysts.
In case of a split in the ruling AIADMK and if there is no majority for the fragmented group to form the government, the DMK, which is the second-largest party in the assembly with 89 seats, would be called to form the government along with the splinter group of the AIADMK which has its maximum support.
But, if a situation like this emerges, it will create internal ruckus , “for the disintegrated AIADMK faction as well as the DMK , which is trying to stabilize and control its hold under Stalin’s leadership”, said Sathiya Moorthy.
“In case she is convicted and goes to jail, it doesn’t mean that the MLAs supporting Sasikala will shift to Panneerselvam’s side. What if the Sasikala camp decides on another leader?” he added.
Observers said that the biggest deterrent for Sasikala would be the power struggle that may arise within the members of her own family as the influence that she wields within the party has already hurt public sentiment.