The All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) has said its deputy general secretary T T V Dinakaran, a relative of general secretary V K Sasikala, will contest the by-election in Dr Radhakrishnan Nagar for the assembly seat which fell vacant after the death of the sitting MLA and Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa. The R K Nagar by-election will held on April 12.
The decision to field Dinakaran was taken at a meeting of AIADMK leaders and has Sasikala's consent, said an announcement by the party. Sasikala, along with two of her relatives are in prison in Bengaluru, following a Supreme Court order that convicted them in a disproposrtionate assets case.
On its part, the DMK said it will field M Maruduganesh to contest the by-election. Jayalalithaa's niece Deepa Jayakumar, who has floated her forum MGR Amma Deepa Peravai, is also expected to join the contest.
Speaking to the reporters on the announcement, Dinakaran said that he will focus on implementing the welfare measures announced by Jayalalithaa for the people in the assembly constituency. On questions whether he would take over as the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, replacing the incumbent Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami, Dinakaran said that the government will be led by Palaniswami.
He also said that he is a normal member of the party while Jayalalithaa was a great leader and there is no comparison between them.
The party will seek support from everybody, including BJP, Congress and the regional parties except Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK). DMK is the only party the AIADMK is at loggerheads with in Tamil Nadu, and the rivalry between the two parties goes back to the days of MGR and Jayalalithaa, he added.
Dinakaran will be contesting on the party symbol of Two Leaves, said the party.
Meanwhile, the Panneerselvam camp is planning to approach the Election Commission, urging it to conduct and oversee the election. The camp is also planning to ask the Election Commission to take a call on to whom the Two leaves symbol should go to before R K Nagar election.
The announcement comes at a time when a section of the party leaders and members have openly expressed their displeasure with Sasikala and her family for taking over the party and trying to take over the government as well.
Panneerselvam, former Chief Minister and a close confident of late Jayalalithaa, who enjoys the support of around 10 MLAs and several senior leaders from the party, had earlier said that his faction would not accept Sasikala's leadership and her family's presence in the party.
They allege that Dinakaran and others had been expelled by Jayalalithaa a few years back and were not allowed to make a comeback or even enter the late leader's house after that. They were reinstated by Sasikala after she took over as the General Secretary of the party and was sentenced for four years'imprisonment by the Supreme Court.
The R K Nagar by-election is expected to be a testing ground for both the factions, along with DMK, to prove their claims, in the backdrop of the political changes took place after the demise of Jayalalithaa.