An AIADMK official in the Palaniswamy camp said the higher education minister’s participation could not have happened without the knowledge of the chief minister. “If the RSS is ready to associate itself with us to do good to the people, what is wrong? This is not a political alliance. He just inaugurated a clean-up drive,” the official said.

But Anbazhagan did not stop with inaugurating the event. He also praised the RSS for its public-spirited works and urged the people to participate in the activities. This marks a clear departure from the time when Jayalalithaa was alive.

A senior BJP leader, expressing surprise, said in the past AIADMK leaders would take part in local RSS events secretly. “In my experience, this is the first time a minister is openly inaugurating an RSS event,” he said.

Political observers in Tamil Nadu had been pointing out that the very reason for Palaniswamy to push out the party’s acting general secretary VK Sasikala’s nephew TTV Dinakaran and his family was to put an end to aggressive moves made by central investigating agencies against his ministers.

The AIADMK official added that there was a feeling that unless Dinakaran and Sasikala were sidelined, the Centre may keep pursuing cases against partymen. However, BJP leaders such as H Raja have consistently denied such claims and had said there was no covert support being offered to Panneerselvam.