Centre In Strategic Position to Pull Strings in AIADMK Fight
New Delhi: Amid the flux in AIADMK, influential leaders in the rulingNDAandoppositionCongressDMK camp in Delhi feel that the rulingpartyattheCentreisstrategically placed to pull political strings in Tamil Nadu to ensure an AIADMK regime that would be friendly to the Centre in addition to providing crucial support to it in the Rajya Sabha and during the Presidential election.
According to government insiders, governor Vidyasagar Rao, whose absence from Chennai has prompted criticism from the Opposition, is expected to “start the process of consultations” with various stakeholders. However it is unlikely that he would rush to take a final call before SupremeCourtgivesitsverdictinthe corruption case involving Sasikala.
The BJP and its government have no particular preference on who should head the TN re gime, Sasikala, Panneerselvan or a dark horse. For them it’s more a case of what Deng Xiaoping said, in a different context: “It doesn’t matter whether the cat is black or white as long as it catches mice.”
The overwhelming support of legislators that Sasikala retained a day after Panneerselvam’s revolt indicated diminishing chances for a split in AIADMK. As per the constitutional norms, a party which enjoys majority in the assembly can elect anyone to head the government. However, the BJP government wants to avoid a scene where Sasikala takes oath as CM only to be convicted by the court within days. A TN governor had to be recalled after swe a r i n g in Jayalalithaa in a similar instances and the Centre would like to wait for the verdict even as the Sasikala camp pushes for her early takeover.
Players in Delhi are also mindful of thepoliticalfalloutinAIADMKinthe event of an adverse verdict in the case. With senior party leader PH Pandian and Panneerselvam posi-
tioning against Sasikala, an adverse verdictmayseeanewplayerfromher camp — like Lok Sabha deputy Speaker Thambidurai — taking over the reins. The Delhi players would also watch if the Pandian-OPS camp with the support of Jayalalithaa’s niece is able to win over majority MLAs.
The Congress, on its part, accused the governor of playing by BJP’s script. AICC General Secretary Digvijaya Singh accused the governor of playing politics on BJP’s directions instead of fulfilling his constitutional obligations. However, the Congress, along with ally DMK that has 90 MLAs, recognises the limited manoeuvering space the Opposition has. A sizable chunk of AIADMK MLAs should break off to side with DMK-Congress camp to make it possible to form an alternate government. Also, given Tamil Nadu’s unpredictable political tradition, it is difficulttoevenhazardaguesswhether the DMK will fight against the Centre or will seek patronage from Delhi in the unlikely event of being in a position to mop up the numbers.