Ahead of polls, Sasikala signals truce with AIADMK

Chennai, Feb 24 (PTI): Expelled AIADMK leader V K Sasikala on Wednesday appealed to ‘true followers’ of late party supremo J Jayalalithaa to join hands and post a spectacular victory in the coming Tamil Nadu assembly elections.
Her appeal, days after returning to Tamil Nadu after serving a four year prison sentence in an assets case, appeared to be a signal for truce with the ruling AIADMK ahead of the polls, likely in April.
After paying floral tributes to a portrait of Jayalalithaa here on her 73rd birth anniversary, Sasikala recalled the late leader’s famous quote that even after her lifetime, the AIADMK would continue to work for the people for centuries to come.
‘True followers’ of Jayalalithaa should come together and remember that the goal is winning it big in the assembly elections, she said without naming anyone and while addressing Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam cadres who gathered for the anniversary event.
Expressing confidence that her pitch for unity would be reciprocated by the late leader’s loyal followers, Sasikala said she would throw her weight behind them.
She appealed to them to ‘work like a bee’ unitedly for poll victory.
Sasikala’s nephew and AMMK leader TTV Dhinakaran, when asked on Sasikala’s assertion, said she only underscored unity. If her reference was to the AIADMK or the AMMK, Dhinakaran, who is the party general secretary said, “you have to ask her.”
In 2017, Sasikala and Dhinakaran were ousted from the AIADMK after the factions led by chief minister K Palaniswami, earlier chosen by her for the top post before proceeding to serve her jail term, and Panneerselvam merged burying the hatchet.
Senior AIADMK leader and Fisheries Minister toeing the party stand of not accommodating Sasikala and relatives said her invite would not apply to his party and it meant only the AMMK.
Asked about Sasikala’s unity line, political analyst Sumanth Raman said the AMMK leadership appeared to work out some kind of an interim arrangement with the ruling party for the elections so that there is no split of votes.
“I see this as a temporary kind of truce,” he told PTI adding based on the poll outcome, the AMMK may rethink its strategy.
Notably, Dhinakaran told reporters that preventing the DMK from coming to power was his party’s goal. Appearing to be accommodative towards the AIADMK, in the same breath he said, “we need not even talk about others.”
He, however, hit out at the AIADMK government for the rising debt and poor financial health.
The AMMK leader asserted that the front to be led by his party would be the primary force in the upcoming polls.
He said, after sharing seats with ‘allies,’ his party would contest in the rest of the constituencies.
The AMMK’s general council and executive council meets are scheduled to be held tomorrow through video conferencing.
Dhinakaran had till recent times maintained that the AMMK’s goal was ‘retrieving’ the AIADMK (bringing the party back to the leadership of him and his aunt).
Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam is the AIADMK coordinator, the numero uno position in the party and Chief Minister K Palaniswami is the co-coordinator, next in its hierarchy.
Wary of the Sasikala factor, the AIADMK has already asked its party workers to light a lamp this evening in their respective houses and take a vow to be loyal to the party and protect it.

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