AIADMK, the story so far

AIADMK factions bury the hatchet

Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami, Governor C. Vidyasagar Rao and Deputy Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam at the swearing in at Raj Bhavan on Monday.   | Photo Credit: S.R. Raghunathan

Former Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam was on Monday sworn in as Deputy Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu after he merged his AIADMK (Puratchi Talaivi Amma) with Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami’s AIADMK (Amma) faction.

However, a decision on Mr. Panneerselvam’s principal demand to oust jailed leader V.K. Sasikala and her family from the party was deferred.

Even as the two factions came together after six months, 18 legislators expressed support to “ousted” deputy general secretary T.T.V. Dhinakaran and sought an appointment with Governor Ch. Vidyasagar Rao on Tuesday. Perambur legislator P. Vetrivel, who briefed journalists at Jayalalithaa’s memorial where the rebel MLAs assembled late in the evening, refused to reveal what they planned to discuss with the Governor.

The unified AIADMK now has the support of only 117 MLAs, including the Speaker, in the 233-member House.


Power-sharing deal

As per a power sharing arrangement worked out between the factions, Mr. Panneerselvam, who was thrice sworn-in Chief Minister for short tenures, agreed to be Mr. Palaniswami’s deputy, holding the portfolios of Finance, Housing and Urban Development. A member of his camp, ‘Ma Foi’ K. Pandiarajan, was appointed Minister for Tamil Official Language and Culture. The portfolios of some other Ministers were also changed.

In the unified AIADMK, a coordination committee has been set up with Mr. Panneerselvam as chairperson and Mr. Palaniswami as co-chair. One representative each from the two camps — former Minister K.P. Munusamy and organising secretary and Rajya Sabha member R. Vaithilingam have been made deputy chairpersons. There will be 11 members in the steering committee.

In response to the Panneerselvam camp’s demand for the removal of Sasikala as interim general secretary, Mr. Vaithilingam told mediapersons that a resolution would be adopted to this effect at a meeting of the party general council to be called soon.

Addressing a gathering of party leaders and senior members, Mr. Panneerselvam, who visited the party office after a gap of six-and-a-half months, described the merger as historic and said that with the reunion, “I relieve myself of the burden [caused by the split]” and “no one can hereafter separate us” amid applause from those present. The merger had been made, fulfilling “dreams of workers” of the party. He added that as a unified organisation, the party would face its political adversaries in all elections in future.

As it happened: AIADMK merger: Panneerselvam to be Deputy CM, gets finance portfolio

‘Blow to sceptics’

Recalling how he faced a “number of problems” in the last six months, Mr. Palaniswami said the merger had come about to end that phase, and Mr. Panneerselvam had “wholeheartedly come forward”.

Some were sceptical about the reunion but the coming together of the two factions had delivered a “strong blow” to their thoughts, the Chief Minister said and added that the immediate priority was to retrieve the “two leaves” symbol.”

Though it became clear even on Saturday that the merger would happen on Monday, considered auspicious being a new moon day, the much-awaited event took place only after a couple of hours of uncertainty.

For starters, Mr. Panneerselvam, who was expected at the AIADMK headquarters in Royapettah around noon, did not turn up. Mr. Vaithilingam and Ministers P. Thangamani and S.P. Velumani shuttled between Mr. Panneerselvam’s residence and Mr. Palaniswami’s house, both on Greenways Road.

At 1.55 p.m., School Education Minister K.A. Sengottaiyan told The Hindu that Mr. Palaniswami would come to the party headquarters shortly, implying that the merger would, indeed, take place.

About 15 minutes later, the Chief Minister reached the party office. Around 2.45 p.m., Mr. Panneerselvam followed.

Visit to memorial

Before going to the Raj Bhavan for the swearing-in, the two leaders visited the Marina to pay homage jointly at the memorials of Jayalalithaa, M.G. Ramachandran and C.N. Annadurai.

The AIADMK had split in February after Mr. Panneerselvam revolted against Sasikala. Eleven more legislators followed him and his faction came to be recognised by the Election Commission as the AIADMK (Puratchi Thalaivi Amma), whereas the other group was called the AIADMK (Amma).

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Printable version | Apr 17, 2021 1:35:02 AM |

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