The deposed leader of the AIADMK and former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, O. Panneerselvam (OPS) seems to be gradually aligning with V.K. Sasikala, former interim general secretary of the AIADMK and close aide of late Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa.
Both Panneerselvam and Sasikala belong to the powerful Thevar community which has major inroads and political decision-making powers in South Tamil Nadu. Thevars have been a mainstay for the AIADMK and the deposing of OPS by Edappadi K. Palaniswami and his associates from the party has not gone down well with the community. Media had reported earlier that Sasikala and Panneerselvam were in the process of reaching an alignment at the behest of the Thevar community.
In a recent interaction with the media at his Theni residence, OPS said that he would meet T.T.V. Dhinakaran of Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam (AMMK) if he gets an opportunity. Dhinakaran the nephew of V.K. Sasikala has been calling the shots from behind for a long.
Meanwhile, Dhinakaran had also told mediapersons that there was nothing wrong in meeting OPS as he was a reformed man from his earlier stand of attacking Sasikala. He also said that he and his party would in no way align with the EPS faction in the AIADMK.
With the AIADMK openly stating that some allies of the ruling DMK would cross over to the AIADMK-led alliance, the announcements of OPS and Dhinakaran assume significance. OPS has also said that he would be appointing office-bearers of his group in all districts of the state and tour the entire Tamil Nadu.
Dr. Kamalakannan, Professor of Political Science at a reputed university of Tamil Nadu while speaking to the Media, said, “While EPS and his associates think that they have edged out OPS, the ground reality is something different which the Central BJP leadership knows for sure. In South Tamil Nadu, the Thevar community is a powerful force and OPS and Sasikala are the best faces of the community in the state. Thevar is a powerful community with deep social connectivity across South Tamil Nadu and the community has not taken the snubbing of OPS lightly and hence the alliance with Sasikala and OPS at its behest. This can be a game changer in Tamil Nadu politics and both the AIADMK factions are aiming for 2026 Assembly elections.”
It has to be seen how the electoral politics of Tamil Nadu will evolve in the days to come and how the new bonhomie will affect the elections for 2026.