Eyeing symbol, party closes ranks

Meeting discussed modalities on how the warring factions could come together, says Jayakumar

Published - April 18, 2017 12:55 am IST - CHENNAI

CHENNAI: 17/04/2017: D jayakumar addressing media, in chennai on Monday. Photo: R. Ravindran.

CHENNAI: 17/04/2017: D jayakumar addressing media, in chennai on Monday. Photo: R. Ravindran.

The late night decision of the ruling AIADMK (Amma) to find ways to join hands with the O. Panneerselvam camp has been influenced by the pressing need to retrieve the party’s popular ‘Two Leaves’ symbol.

Finance Minister D. Jayakumar, who emerged from a meeting of ministers, gave enough hints that the need to unite the warring factions arose from the desire to retrieve the ‘Two Leaves’ symbol.

“Our meeting revolved around the views expressed by OPS and Mr. Thambi Durai that we need unity.

“We discussed the modalities of how the party could be strengthened and integrated on the lines of the views expressed by the two leaders [belonging to rival camps]. We want to give an action plan for this. All the 123 MLAs, ministers and cadres are clear that that Amma’ s government must continue and ‘Two Leaves’ must be retrieved,” he said.

Significantly, the meeting of ministers came when Mr. Dhinakaran was away in Bengaluru to meet Sasikala. Separately, the CM asked all party MLAs to be in Chennai on Tuesday “to get on board” a Naval ship dedicated to the Chennai.

While a majority of the ministers met at Mr. Thangamani’s house, a parallel meeting was held at the residence of Housing Minister Udumalai Radhakrishnan, a staunch Sasikala loyalist.

Just around the time the meeting at Mr. Thangamani’s house was drawing to a close, Health Minister C. Vijaya Baskar arrived there. A few minutes earlier, Mr. Radhakrishnan and Information Minister Kadambur Raju walked in.

Asked what Mr. Dhinakaran’s view on the issue was, Law Minister C.Ve. Shanmugam said, “He has gone to Bengaluru. When he returns, we will consult him and take further decision.”

Municipal Administration Minister S.P. Velumani said the Chief Minister had approved of the meeting.

Mr. Kadambur Raju separately said, “We accept whatever has been decided at the meeting.”

Earlier in the day, Mr. Panneerselvam, when asked about a possible merger with AIADMK (Amma), said, “So far, I have not been approached (by the opposition camp). If we are approached, we are ready to talk and thrash out the issues. We are sure that they will come.” When asked if there were any preconditions for the talks, he said “There are no conditions”.

Meanwhile, Mr, Thambi Durai, who held discussions twice with the Chief Minister and some ministers at the Secretariat, denied that there was any revolt within the ruling party and asserted that there was no split.

He welcomed the observation made by former Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam that the latter was not averse to a merger of both parties.

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