Sasikala looming, raids on, ADMK fears more blows, further cracks

© Provided by The Indian Express

The Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption (DVAC) searches at over 20 premises and locations related to former AIADMK Minister K C Veeramani on Thursday are being seen by the party as part of pressure tactics on it, as it struggles to contain dissension since it lost power earlier this year.

The raids coincided with the wedding of AIADMK rebel-turned-AMMK leader T T V Dhinakaran’s daughter. The function passed without an event, with party luminaries keeping away. Leaders had been waiting with bated breath to see who turned up — as a sign on which side Dhinakaran’s aunt and late Jayalalithaa confidante V K Sasikala would lean.

Several AIADMK MLAs, including in both the E Palaniswami and O Paneerselvam camps, are reportedly in talks with Sasikala. “The general feeling is she is the only leader who can bring together the AIADMK. There are fears that Palaniswami (the former chief minister) may be summoned soon for questioning in the Kodanadu estate robbery case and murders, as he has been named by the accused. At least 20 AIADMK MLAs are in talks with the Sasikala camp, including former ministers… Some have serious issues with Dhinakaran but not Sasikala,” a former AIADMK leader said.

The Kodanadu estate was owned by Jayalalithaa. While Chief Minister M K Stalin, who has tried to break a Tamil Nadu trend by maintaining cordial ties with Opposition parties, is expected to tread carefully on the matter, AIADMK leaders say that mere questioning of Palaniswami would cause enough damage to the party.

A senior officer told The Indian Express that they expected things to move in the Kodanadu case in a month.

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A source close to Sasikala said she sees Panneerselvam, who had lost out in the CM race to Palaniswami, as weaker among the two and hence more pliable. On the other hand, Sasikala blames Palaniswami for preventing her reentry into the AIADMK after her release from prison.

Since 2017, Paneerselvam has held several meetings with her and Dhinakaran amidst the party power tussle, a source said.

“Sasikala knows that Panneerselvam may not be leader material but he is the best No. 2. She will wait and watch how things turn out in the coming weeks,” the source said, adding that her decision to keep away from politics in the days following her release added to her credibility.

The AIADMK believes the DVAC action Thursday proves the ruling DMK government will try to fish in its troubled waters. Veeramani, who held the Commercial Taxes portfolio in the AIADMK government, is the third former party minister to come in the DVAC net, after M R Vijayabaskar (Transport) and S P Velumani (Municipal Administration).

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