Chennai : In a bid to get people’s endorsement to his claim to late Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa’s political legacy, TTV Dinakaran, the nephew of jailed AIADMK leader V.K. Sasikala, has decided to contest the by-elections from the Dr Radhakrishnan Nagar (R K Nagar) Assembly constituency in Chennai, which was represented by her. The by-poll is slated for April 12. With this move, in the near future, Dinakaran is hoping to replace Edappadi K Palaniswami as Chief Minister, though he publicly denied any such aspiration.
Dinakaran, who was appointed deputy general secretary of the AIADMK on the day Sasikala went to the jail in Bengaluru following her conviction in a corruption case, was expelled by Jayalalithaa from the party in September 2011. He and a dozen family members of Sasikala were expelled after it became known that they were allegedly conspiring to dislodge Jayalalithaa. In March 2012, Jayalalithaa re-admitted Sasikala alone into the party after she submitted an apology letter in which she declared that all her relatives who were expelled from the party would remain persona non grata in her life too.
However, after Jayalalithaa’s death, Sasikala, who became interim general secretary of the AIADMK, had re-admitted two of her family members – Dinakaran and another relative Venkatesan – on February 14, the day the Supreme Court convicted her. Since her incarceration, Dinakaran has been running the affairs of the party.
“I am confident of winning by a margin of over 50,000 votes,” Dinakaran told journalists after announcing his candidature.
Observers see this as a big, bold gamble considering that there is widespread resentment against Sasikala and her family in the R K Nagar constituency, which first elected Jayalalithaa in a by-election in 2015 and endorsed her a second time in last year’s general election.