AIADMK invites Stalin, ousted Dhinakaran for valedictory function
Amid their continuing bribery barbs at it, the ruling AIADMK has invited arch rival DMK President M K Stalin and ousted leader TTV Dhinakaran for the valedictory function of party founder and late chief minister M G Ramachandran's birth centenary celebrations, raising a few eyebrows.
Political rivals sharing a stage in Tamil Nadu is a rare sight, but the AIADMK government has extended invitation to Stalin and Dhinakaran, who has floated his Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam (AMMK) and vowed to unseat Chief Minister K Palaniswami led ministry.
Though officially it was being stated that the leaders had been invited as it was a government function, inclusion of Dhinakaran in the list is being seen as an attempt by Palaniswami to extend an olive branch to him.
However, it is anybody's guess whether Stalin and Dhinakaran would accept the invite and share the platform with AIADMK leaders on September 30 at the valedictory. They are also listed among the speakers at the function. Both have been hitting hard against the Palaniswami government and often predicting its "downfall" over a number of issues including corruption.
A former DMK leader, matinee idol-turned-politician Ramachandran, popularly known as MGR, founded the AIADMK in 1972 after parting ways with the party chief late M Karunanidhi. The two Dravidian arch rivals have since ruled the state alternately, leaving no space for national parties. Minister for Tamil Official Language and Tamil Culture, K Pandiarajan indicated that invitations for the MGR event were extended to them as it was a government function. "It is a government function. It is the duty to invite (certain persons)... we want them to come," he told reporters here.
The DMK described the government's invitation as "magnanimity," but wanted to see if same attitude continued in other issues. "Let the magnanimity be there. What remains to be seen is whether the same healthy trend will be followed in other issues," DMK spokesperson KS Radhakrishnan told PTI.
On Dhinakaran's participation, a close aide of the AMMK leader refused to comment on the issue, saying they have not received the government's invitation card so far. Any decision on Dhinakran attending the event will be taken by himself later this week, he said. Meanwhile, noted political commentator and veteran journalist Shyam Shaanmugam expressed surprise at Dhinakaran being invited for the event, saying it could be an attempt to 'patch-up' between him and Palaniswami.
When pointed out that other DMK leaders including its Rajya Sabha MP TKS Elangovan and some local MLAs are also slated to speak at the function, he said "MGR played a key role in DMK's growth," prior to his exit. "MGR played a key role in DMK's growth. Had he been alive, even late DMK chief M Karunanidhi could have been invited," he said.
On Dhinakaran, he expressed surprise that an "independent MLA" from RK Nagar here has been invited but termed it as a "recognition. I suspect that it could be a patch-up," between Palaniswami and Dhinakaran, he added. With DMK virtually shutting its doors on BJP for any electoral alliance for next year's Lok Sabha polls, he said a "unified AIADMK" was in the interest of the national party if it was looking at it as an ally. Dhinakaran was last year sidelined from the AIADMK, post the merger of two factions led by Palaniswami and his now deputy O Panneerselvam, who first revolted against then party interim general secretary V K Sasikala, close aide of late party chief Jayalalithaa, and her family.
The unified AIADMK also expelled Sasikala, Dhinakaran's aunt, now serving a jail term in a corruption case in Bengaluru, and annulled all appointments made by her, including making her nephew deputy general secretary, before going to prison in February 2017.