Sasikala's kin fight over merger plans

V K Sasikala.

Persistent differences within the family of jailed AIADMK leader V K Sasikala, whose grand plans to take over the party after J Jayalalithaa's death came crashing down, have come out wide open in the public space.

T T V Dhinakaran and V K Dhivaharan, nephew and brother of Sasikala, respectively, have been admonishing each other for the past two days, exposing chinks within the beleaguered family that is desperately trying to stage a political comeback.

The verbal duel seems to have spurred by a "secret operation" that Dhivaharan launched for a compromise with the AIADMK top brass, leaving Dhinakaran, whose faction now functions under the name of Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam, and his supporters fuming.

Though they never shared a good rapport, Dhinakaran, the face of the Sasikala family, Dhivaharan patched up recently and put up a show of unity after a dressing down from the jailed leader.

Sources in the know-how told DH that Dhivaharan has sent feelers for a rapprochement with the AIADMK top brass —  Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami and his deputy O Panneerselvam  — much to the disappointment of Dhinakaran, who considers the duo as his sworn enemies after the two patched up in August last year.

They said Dhivaharan feels the family should not be out of mainstream politics for a very long time and that is the reason for sending the feelers.

Senior ministers of the AIADMK were tight-lipped on the "secret operation" and refused to comment.

The cold war between the two turned into an open battle on Tuesday with Dhivaharan saying that the family was not in agreement with Dhinakaran's faction functioning under a new name and that the latter was functioning independently without consulting anyone.

Dhinakaran's retort to his uncle was more harsh as he warned troublemakers, even if they are from the family, of strict action.

"Dhinakaran and his faction are now operating as a separate outfit and he has made it clear that he will not have any truck with the AIADMK as long as EPS and OPS head the outfit. And Dhinakaran felt humiliated when he came to know of Dhivaharan's secret plan to open a channel with the very people who have betrayed Sasikala and the family," a senior leader of the Dhinakaran faction told DH.

Dhivaharan reaching out to the EPS-OPS duo is also aimed at reducing the clout of Dhinakaran within the family and the party.

Though the split is wide open only now, none in the family were happy with the "exponential growth" of Dhinakaran in the political arena after he was catapulted to the post of AIADMK deputy general secretary when Sasikala went to jail in February 2017.

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