MP from AIADMK’s Dhinakaran camp extends support to CM

Chennai: In a boost to the K Palaniswami-led faction of the ruling AIADMK, a party MP from the rival TTV Dhinakaran camp today switched sides to extend support to the chief minister.

M Vasanthi, the AIADMK MP from Tenkasi (SC), alleged that Dhinakaran, the party’s sidelined leader, had “aligned” with the DMK to topple the “Amma government”, a reference to the the AIADMK government.

Late Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa is called “Amma” by supporters.

“Is it fair for him (Dhinakaran) to say he will topple this government by aligning with the DMK. He has been repeatedly saying that and we don’t like it. The 1.5 crore supporters of the party are agitated over this,” she said when asked about her switching sides. Speaking to reporters after meeting Palaniswami here, she said the chief minister and his deputy O Panneerselvam will take forward the public work left behind by Jayalalithaa and continue to deliver the various welfare schemes. “Amma worked selflessly for the people. How can that government be toppled,” she said. The MP felt that the pro-Dhinakaran MLAs staying at a resort in Coorg in Karnataka had been “imprisoned” and asked if it was fair to do so as they were elected to serve the public.

More persons might switch sides from the Dhinakaran camp in the coming days, she said. Dhinakaran and Palaniswami are engaged in a tussle for power and the state has witnessed a number of episodes including the revolt by 19 MLAs against the chief minister and subsequent disqualification of 18 of them. While factions led by Palaniswami and Panneerselvam had merged on August 21, the very next day, 19 MLAs owing allegiance to Dhinakaran had met Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao, saying they had lost confidence in the chief minister.

They had sought his removal. However, one MLA later switched to the Palaniswami camp.

Since then, opposition parties including the DMK, besides the Dhinakaran faction, have been demanding that Rao order a floor test of the Palaniswami government, saying it has “lost majority.”

Speaker Dhanapal had disqualified 18 MLAs on September 18. They have since moved the court against the disqualification.

Dhinakaran had earlier ruled out any direct or indirect pact with the DMK but has been asserting he will “send home” the Palaniswami government, accusing the chief minister of “betrayal.”

He has been accusing Palaniswami of “betraying” party chief VK Sasikala, saying she was the one who had nominated him to the top post following a revolt by then rebel leader Panneerselvam in February.