K. Palaniswami. (File Photo: IANS). Image Source: IANS News

Chennai, May 30 : The AIADMK which lost the 2021 assembly elections after ten continuous years in power, is now facing rough weather with its two most powerful leaders, former Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami (EPS) and Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam (OPS) engaged in a fight over political supremacy within the party.

OPS is a Thevar and a former loyalist of late Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa and her friend VK Sasikala. Incidentally, both Sasikala and OPS are from the Thevar community, considered as fighters and warriors among the various caste denominations of Tamil Nadu.

After MK Stalin become Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, he had made an attempt for a makeover and to emerge as a consensus Chief Minister and had even formed a committee of legislators drawn from all political parties in the House. This brought him much appreciation in the media and among the general public. Stalin seems to be trying to end the cult politics practiced in the state during the heydays of Jayalalithaa and his father late M Karunanidhi.

With Stalin emerging as a popular Chief Minister, the AIADMK has to settle the differences between its main leaders, Palaniswami and Panneerselvam. The theory doing the rounds in Tamil Nadu is that they have to be together or it could lead to the AIADMK getting marginalised in the days to come as a wounded Sasikala and TTV Dhinakaran are waiting in the wings to try and make a comeback in the party and to forge an alliance with OPS who is from the Thevar community as much as they are.

However, political observers are of the opinion that at present the minor rift between the two main leaders of the AIADMK has not yet reached a no comeback point. But if the rift widens and Sasikala and Dhinakaran try to make a comeback, it could lead to a major division where the EPS faction may use all the weapons in its armoury to block their entry.

EPS is banking on the BJP national leadership and Prime Minister Narendra Modi to come to his support and do the firefighting on his behalf and to continue with the present arrangement. The saffron party has got four legislators in the assembly after the 2021 elections and the party does not want the current relationship between EPS and OPS to be broken and the AIADMK getting marginalised.

If the AIADMK does not settle the differences between EPS and OPS on a war-footing, trouble could erupt, and even the BJP leadership and the Union government may not be able to prevent the AIADMK facing tough times.

C Rajeev, Political analyst and Director, Centre For Policy and Development Studies, a think tank based out of Chennai, told IANS, "The two tall leaders of AIADMK at present are Edappadi K Palaniswami and O Panneerselvam and if these leaders continue to fight, there could be a major realignment in the party and the possibility of Sasikala and Dhinakaran forcing a comeback and extending their support to OPS to capture AIADMK could not be ruled out. However, this might not happen as the BJP at the Centre would throw its weight behind an agreement between the two warring leaders as they want to piggy back on the AIADMK to make a mark in TN." The days to come will be interesting as far as the AIADMK politics is concerned. With Stalin emerging powerful and the party out of power, there could be fissures within the AIADMK.

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