Chennai: As Tamil Nadu observes the first death anniversary of former chief minister J. Jayalalithaa on 5 December, it also marks a year of chaos in state politics.
The ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) has been rocked by internal conflicts leading to political uncertainty. The state has had three chief ministers in the last one year and almost had a fourth one when the sidelined party leader V.K. Sasikala was ready to be sworn in before she was jailed in a disproportionate assets case in February.
Sasikala and her nephew T.T.V. Dhinakaran were later sidelined within the party, and a truce was orchestrated by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) between chief minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami (EPS) and O. Panneerselvam (OPS).
Despite the merger, the acrimony hasn't died down.
In November, Rajya Sabha MP V. Maitreyan posted on Facebook, “It has been three months now since the merger of EPS-OPS faction. Months are passing by, what about hearts?" He said he reflected the thoughts of the cadres in the party.
Maitreyan was part of the Panneerselvam camp, when the latter split from the party in February.
Legislators shifting loyalties, splinter groups unifying and then again parting ways have been routine over the last one year.
As for the BJP, the factional feud in the AIADMK, which has 15 million members, came in handy.
Naturally, governance has suffered. The present government under Palaniswami and his deputy Panneerselvam has been accused of doing nothing more than organizing the centenary function of the party’s founder M.G. Ramachandran (MGR) across the state throughout the year.
M.K. Stalin, leader of the opposition and the working president of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) had recently criticized the government for “using public money for political mudslinging during MGR centenary celebrations."
The opposition DMK and the rebel faction under Dhinakaran approached the court after former governor C. Vidyasagar Rao “failed to address a constitutional crisis" when 18 MLAs allied with Dhinakaran against the chief minister. Speaker P. Dhanapal then, disqualified the rebel MLAs citing anti-defection laws.
While the disqualification of the MLAs and seven other cases are before the Madras high court, the duel over the disputed “two leaves" party symbol is being heard by the Delhi high court.
New governor Banwarilal Purohit’s meeting with the Coimbatore district collector and other officials in November to review the work of the administration drew much flak and Stalin raised suspicion that the BJP at the centre was trying to rule by proxy in Tamil Nadu.
As the state awaits the decisions of the Madras HC and Delhi HC, questions over the future of AIADMK—one of the largest political parties in the country—and the future course of Tamil Nadu politics, amid pressure from the BJP at the centre, loom large.