Former AIADMK leader TTV Dhinakaran has announced that his new political party will be called the Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam (AMMK).
The literal translation of the party's name is 'Amma People's Progress Federation'. It was expected that the party that Dhinakaran launched would certainly have 'Amma' in its name. That was the title by which late AIADMK supremo J Jayalalithaa was referred to in Tamil Nadu's political circles.
He announced the name at a rally in Melur, near the city of Madurai. He also unveiled the 'pressure cooker' as the party's symbol. This was the symbol with which he pulled off his surprise win in the bye-election to the Radhakrishnan Nagar constituency, which Jayalalithaa represented at the time of her death.
The flag of the new outfit that he unveiled on the stage features the AIADMK colours of black, white and red. But instead of the AIADMK's outline of CN Annadurai, the AMMK features an outline of Jayalalithaa.
Dhinakaran's choice of party name is a loaded message in a state where political awareness runs high. The choice not to have a reference to Dravidian politics is surely a conscious decision aimed at creating an opening into other vote bank consolidations.
The omission of the word 'Dravida' from the party's name is also a bold decision for a new party in a state where it has been in the ruling party's name in one way or the other continuously from 1967. The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) and the Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) have exchanged power continuously for 51 years now.
Dhinakaran had been locked in battle for control of the AIADMK after Jayalalithaa's death in December 2016. His aunt, VK Sasikala, was a close aide to the former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister. She and her family had attempted to take charge of the party, prompting a faction led by then CM O Panneerselvam to break away.
Dhinakaran was effectively left in charge of the larger faction of the party and its government after Sasikala's incarceration in a disproportionate assets case. This was followed by troubles of his own for Dhinakaran. He was accused of attempting to bribe Election Commission officials to give the AIADMK's coveted 'two leaves' symbol to his faction. The tide turned against Dhinakaran, when his faction ditched him and merged with the rebels.
However, the scrappy leader proved that he could not be written off easily by winning the troubled bye-election in RK Nagar.