Dhivaharan revolts to widen Sasi family rift

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Dhivaharan revolts to widen Sasi family rift

VK Sasikala’s younger sibling V Dhivaharan has vowed to stop referring to her as his “sister” in a public renouncement that political analysts view as another instance of strained relations in the family that had called the shots after the death of AIADMK leader Jayalalithaa but is now largely holding onto the fringes of power.

Dhivaharan, a regional politician, had struck out on his own with an aim to unite the cadre loyal to AIADMK’s founder MG Ramachandran and to widen the base created by his protégé J Jayalalithaa. A critic of Sasikala’s newphew TTV Dhinakaran, Dhivaharan had claimed to revive one of the factions that came into being after the revolt of O Panneerselvam against Sasikala. He had also opened a party office in Mannargudi, where the Sasikala family hails from.

Dhivaharan said his move was also a consequence of Dhinakaran’s shadow boxing: “This is another instance of the politics of blackmail by Dhinakaran; I shall not refer to her as my sister anymore. However, my political journey will continue,” he told reporters on Monday, adding the circumstances of O Panneerselvam’s rebellion also had the workings of Dhinakaran in the backdrop.

Dhivaharan’s move on Monday follows a legal notice from VK Sasikala last week asking him to desist projecting her pictures or her name in representations of his political foray. The copy of the notice, seen by
ET, accuses Dhivaharan of siding with the current ruling dispensation at the AIADMK: “Your praises for O Panneerselvam and Edappadi K Palaniswami have made it apparent to the people of Tamil Nadu what your political affiliations are…”

The AIADMK regards the strife within the Sasikala family with dispassion, said insiders. “The feud within the party has nothing to do with us; secondly, for the public at large and the AIADMK partymen, the actions of both Dhinakaran and Dhivaharan bear no significance,” said a top-level AIADMK leader on condition of anonymity. Loyalists of Dhinakaran claim the move by Sasikala is not to side with Dhinakaran against her own brother, but to ensure the party cadre got the message that she was determined to disallow family feuds acting against the larger interests of the party.

Analysts say Dhivaharan’s distancing will have an impact should more cracks break out in the family.

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