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Just as students not ready to take on the examinations make a claim of fever to avoid the tests, the ruling AIADMK has yet again demonstrated ‘Poll Fever’ barely a day before the dates for the Tiruparankudram and Tiruvarur by-elections were to be announced by the Central Election Commission.

The State government, which earlier informed the CEC that it was ready to hold the by-polls, did an about-turn and informed the Election Commission that heavy rains were forecast for the State, and therefore the situation was not conducive to hold the elections in the next couple of months.

The reason was obvious – the Dinakaran bomb which revealed that Deputy Chief Minister and AIADMK co-ordinator O Panneerselvam had had a secret meeting with T T V Dhinakaran, AMMK leader, had created implosions in the AIADMK. With knives out for OPS in the ruling AIADMK camp, senior leaders of the party had to force OPS to reveal that there was no conspiracy on his part against the AIADMK government. Yet, inwardly, ministers close to Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami were seething with anger over the game played by OPS in appearing to be with them, yet planning the downfall of the government with the help of his arch rival, Dinakaran.

The drama of OPS in launching the ‘Dharmayudham’ against the Sasikala family including Dinakaran, even while holding secret parleys against the CM, has sent shock waves not only in the EPS camp but in the OPS camp as well.

Close associates of OPS were taken aback by Dinakaran’s revelation and the subsequent confirmation by OPS himself that he had met Dinakaran. Even if OPS did not want to disclose that he would be meeting Dinakaran, he could have at least informed them of the meeting details subsequently, his associates say.

In contrast, they pointed out that Dinakaran had emerged from the episode in better light as he seemed to have kept them in the loop before and after the meeting with OPS.

The entire episode has cast OPS and his group in poor light.

In this background, EPS and co., had apparently felt that the situation was not right for the party, and that it could take a beating in the by-polls as the EPS and OPS groups may not work together. Rather than give the upper hand to Dinakaran yet again (as in the RK Nagar by-poll), they must have decided that discretion is the better part of valour, and to put off elections till the dust died down.

The Central Election Commission has also not covered itself with glory. It was charged with partisanship by ordering the by-poll for the RK Nagar constituency a day after awarding the two-leaves symbol to the AIADMK led by Edappadi Palaniswami. The cancellation of the by-poll there raised many eyebrows as there was little follow-up in the case relating to AIADMK ministers being charged with spending Rs 95 crore for the by-election. The last-minute cancellation again this time, using the fig leaf of the monsoon, has left the EC to answer many questions.

Meanwhile, the AIADMK has the tough task of having to set its house in order.

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