Sasikala, the late J. Jayalalithaa’s long-time confidante, and her nephew T.T.V. Dhinakaran is a very desirable step.
The AIADMK, Tamil Nadu’s ruling party, seems determined to strike out a new course independent of Sasikala and her family. A planned merger of former CM O. Panneerselvam’s breakaway faction with the ruling group, that was in the air for long, is likely to materialise. Whether that happens quickly or not, the move by chief minister Edappadi Palaniswami to steer the party away from the “extra-constitutional authority” of V.K. Sasikala, the late J. Jayalalithaa’s long-time confidante, and her nephew T.T.V. Dhinakaran is a very desirable step. It was an embarrassment for Tamil Nadu that its Cabinet and ministers remained beholden to a person jailed for corruption and disqualified from seeking election for a decade. To make a clean break from the history of loot is challenging, but is a step that has to be taken.
There are tricky issues before the government as it runs on a wafer-thin majority, but the fear of being toppled shouldn’t preclude proper governance. This is where the merger may come in handy as the numbers may go to strengthen the government’s hand. A united party can also reclaim the frozen “Two Leaves” symbol, that is the key to the popular vote as people voted for Jayalalithaa, the party’s legitimate arm while she was alive. Her legacy may have been diminished by the serious crime of corruption she was guilty of. But to allow her companion to hijack a political party with a mass base was a travesty of justice as it served only rank opportunism and descent into the same path of using the government to pad up illegally-begotten fortunes.