AIADMK (Amma) deputy chief T T V Dhinakaran on Monday launched a scathing attack on Tamil Nadu Chief Minister K Palaniswami, accusing him of attempts to oust him and "usurping" the party. Addressing a massive rally, the first in a series of rallies announced by him to mark the birth centenary of late chief minister and party founder M G Ramachandran (MGR), Dhinakaran said Palaniswami got the top post only because party chief V K Sasikala chose him. He also vowed to work for its unity and secure its 'Two Leaves' symbol.
His rally, attended by over 20 AIADMK lawmakers and nearly 25,000 people, was a show of strentgh for the leader who was until recently in the jail on charges of attempting to bribe Election Commission officials.
Days after he announced the MGR birth centenary celebrations and appointed some office-bearers after returning to active party work on August 4, following a two-month hiatus, the Palaniswami camp had held a meeting on August 10 and passed a resolution, declaring that Dhinakaran's appointment as deputy general secretary was against the party by-laws.
This was seen as a step towards a merger of the factions led by Palaniswami and former chief minister O Panneerselvam, whose main demands included expulsion of Dhinakaran and his aunt V K Sasikala from the party. However, Dhinakaran had dismissed the resolution and asserted that he continued to be in control of the AIADMK.
At least 23 of AIADMK MLAs and four MPs shared the dais with about 200 party leaders at a rally organised by deputy general secretary Dinakaran in Melur village, near Madurai. Around 25,000 people turned up for the rally.
Monday's rally at Madurai, which is being seen as a show of strength by the Dhinakaran camp, was attended by six AIADMK MPs, 19 MLAs and a huge number of party workers. Stating that it was the cadre who made the party and not only the MLAs, Dhinakaran said those who had passed the resolution against him should come out and see the crowd.
"The AIADMK is a cadre-based party and those who respect the cadre and their wishes alone would survive. They (the Palaniswami camp) cannot survive by removing me or my banners from the party headquarters," he added.
In a veiled attack on Panneerselvam over his demand for a probe into former chief minister J Jayalalithaa's death, Dhinakaran said let there be a judicial inquiry.
"The people know who was in power throughout the period when Puratchi Thalaivi Amma (Jayalalithaa) was in hospital. Let there be a judicial probe...the truth will come out," he said addressing the huge crowd, which stayed put braving rains.
Dhinakaran urged Palaniswami and his cabinet colleagues to forge a "good relationship" with the Centre and try to get the "maximum" for the development of Tamil Nadu and its people, "instead of focussing on removing certain leaders".
He asserted that the people had elected the AIADMK government so that the good works of MGR and Jayalalithaa, who had toiled to protect the party to fight against the "evil and corrupt forces" (a veiled reference to the DMK), would continue.
"Instead of continuing with the good work of Amma, they (the government) are now focussing on removing me from the party post and using power to prevent the workers, including the MLAs, from attending this rally," alleged Dhinakaran.
He claimed that the "hearts of the MLAs" in the Palaniswami camp, were with the "real AIADMK", led by him.
Seeking to invoke the legacy of MGR, he said, "Is it wrong to celebrate MGR's birthday? Now, an AIADMK government is in power and it is working against the AIADMK." Dhinakaran claimed that Palaniswami had become the chief minister only because "Chinnamma (Sasikala) pointed her finger at him."
Had Sasikala wanted, she could have made any of her family members the chief minister, but that was not her wish, he said, adding that she only wanted the government and the party to be protected for the welfare of the people.
"If the MLAs were not at the Kuvathoor resort, could Palaniswami have dreamt of becoming the chief minister," asked Dhinakaran, in an apparent reference to the efforts of Sasikala to keep the AIADMK flock together after Panneerselvam revolted against the party leadership in February.
He claimed that Palaniswami had become chief minister "by accident" and due to various circumstances, including Sasikala's incarceration in a Bengaluru jail in a corruption case.
"Those who claimed that they were waging a dharma yudhha (battle for justice), are actually fighting against dharma," Dhinakaran said.
He vowed to get the party's 'Two Leaves' poll symbol, which had been frozen by the Election Commission (EC) after the Panneerselvam faction staked claim to it, before the 2019 Lok Sabha election.
Dhinakaran claimed he had been in the party since 1987 and had worked closely with Jayalalithaa, whom he described as his mentor.
Earlier, talking to reporters, he questioned the Palaniswami camp's move to adopt the resolution, questioning his appointment as the party's deputy general secretary.
Stating that the Palaniswami camp had earlier submitted affidavits before the EC, supporting the appointment of him and Sasikala, he sought to know whether challenging the same later did not amount to cheating.
"They have passed a resolution, as per which the appointments made by me are null and void. Is this not 420 (cheating)? If 27 ministers, including the chief minister, have signed the resolution nullifying the appointments made by me, it is cheating," Dhinakaran said.
He added that he was not scared of anyone as he had faced "a lot of opposition" since 1987.
Dhinakaran alleged that there were reports of corruption against a state minister in implementing a marriage assistance scheme of the government.
(With PTI inputs)