Chennai, Feb 8: History is once again repeating in Tamil Nadu. It was in 1987 when MG Ramachandran died, the southern state witnessed a huge political crisis. MGR's political outfit-- the Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam--was split between his widow Janaki Ramachandra and political protégé Jayalalithaa.
Currently, a similar situation is brewing in the ruling party in the state. Just two months after Jayalalithaa's demise, the party she built after MGR's death, is staring at a split. On one hand is her 'trusted friend' Sasikala and on the other her 'loyalist' O Panneerselvam.
After MGR's death, Jayalalithaa was humiliated by her party members. On Tuesday, Panneerselvam accused that he was insulted by party colleagues. Both Jayalalithaa and Panneerselvam had to 'endure' public ignominy, albeit in a different manner.
When the AIADMK got split in 1987, most of the legislators and party functionaries angered by the preference that MGR gave to Jayalalithaa, stood firmly behind Janaki making her the first woman chief minister of TN. Jayalalithaa, however, gathered mass support. The former CM garnered public sympathy as she endured a lot of humiliation meted on her by the then AIADMK leadership.
Jayalalithaa, known for her oratory skills, directly spoke to the voters, addressed rallies and had proven her position as a mass leader. The party is staring at a similar situation now. The legislators and party functionaries are standing firmly behind Sasikala.
However, the deserted look Poes Garden (residence of Jayalalithaa, currently occupied by Sasikala) in Chennai wore on Tuesday when an emergency meeting was underway, spoke volumes about who enjoys public support.
Panneerselvam became a 'hero' on Tuesday night when he expressed his dissent. A crowd had gathered outside his residence even before his return from Jayalalithaa's memorial--where he addressed the media and expressed his anguish. Slogans hailing Panneerselvam were heard throughout the night.
It was only after the media reported about the stark contrast between the 'quiet' Poes Garden and 'celebratory mood' outside Panneerselvam's residence did members started gathering in small groups outside Poes Garden.
It may be noted that in 1972, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam had removed MGR from the post of party treasurer and he went on to form the AIADMK. Panneerselvam too was removed from the post of AIADMK treasurer by Sasikala on Tuesday.
Thanks to the public anger against Sasikala, Panneerselvam today enjoys a massive support. Add to it, Panneerselvam also has the backing from the Union Government. Thus he is surely going to give a tough competition to Sasikala and her supporters.
After MGR's death, the ousted Jayalalithaa too was backed by the then Central Government that dismissed Janaki's government and made way for changes in TN politics. Jayalalithaa proved her ability to take the party forward and under her leadership both the factions finally came together sidelining Janaki completely.