TTV Dinakaran, the AIADMK number 2 sidelined by Tamil Nadu Chief Minister E Palaniswami, is making another comeback bid with a rally near Madurai today. Mr Dinakaran, sources say, still enjoys the support of more than 20 lawmakers of the party. Some of them are ministers in Mr Palaniswami's cabinet, and are expected to share stage with Mr Dinakaran.
The meeting comes amid the hectic efforts of Mr Palaniswami to effect a patch-up with his predecessor O Panneerselvam, who now leads a breakaway faction of AIADMK and has the support of at least 10 lawmakers and a few Parliamentarians. The two factions were in Delhi and their chiefs had individual meetings with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Mr Panneerselvam met the Prime Minister this morning, but refused to divulge much about the discussion.
Both factions are keenly watching the Madurai rally, seen as the 53-year-old Mr Dinakaran's opening gambit to unseat Mr Palaniswami, who now controls the party.
Mr Dinakaran is the nephew of VK Sasikala, who took over the party after the death of Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa. In February, before going to jail in a corruption case, Ms Sasikala had installed him as party number 2 to act as her proxy. But soon after, Mr Palaniswami sidelined both, ostensibly in response to a pre-merger demand from Mr Panneerselvam's faction.
The move was made easier by the corruption allegations against Mr Dinakaran -- one of the key ones being his alleged efforts to bribe the Election Commission officials before the by-elections in RK Nagar, the constituency in Chennai held by Ms Jayalalithaa. The Election Commission was expected to take a call on whom to award the two-leaf symbol of the AIADMK - both factions had staked claim to it in an effort to take over the party and Jayalalithaa's political legacy.
After the bribery allegations, the polling was put on hold by the Election Commission. Mr Dinakaran was arrested from Delhi in April along with the middle-man in the case. He is currently out on bail.