Tamil Nadu

Despite delay, AIADMK factions hint at merger

Chief Minister Edappady K. Palaniswami and former Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam in Chennai. File photo   | Photo Credit: B. Jothi Ramalingam

Talks on the merger of the two AIADMK factions are going on smoothly and a positive result is expected in a day or two, former chief minister O Panneerselvam said on After the much-anticipated merger of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam’s two factions — AIADMK (Amma) and AIADMK (Puratchi Thalaivi Amma) — hit a roadblock on Friday, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami and his predecessor O. Panneerselvam on Saturday said the reunion will take place in a day or two.

Speaking in one voice, though at separate venues, the two leaders said negotiations for the merger were going on smoothly. While Mr. Palaniswami told mediapersons in Tiruvarur that the merger would happen “shortly,” Mr. Pannerselvam was more specific, and said it would take place “in a day or two.”

On Friday, the two factions were unable to agree on the terms for the merger as the OPS camp leaders could not reach a consensus, despite a marathon meeting lasting over four hours.

The OPS camp has said that for the merger to happen, Mr. O. Panneerselvam has to be made party chief.

“We are very clear that Mr. Panneerselvam should be the party chief,” said an AIADMK veteran, who participated in the marathon meeting on Friday evening. At the meeting, a few select leaders told Mr. Panneerselvam that he should head the party as the people may not accept their fight against the Sasikala family otherwise.

It was also decided not to take up the offer of the deputy chief minister as the rebel leaders felt it would be a demotion for Mr. Panneerselvam who has served as chief minister thrice, said the leader.

The OPS camp leaders are not sure how the ruling faction led by Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami would unseat the interim general secretary V.K. Sasikala, serving a jail term after being convicted in the Disproportionate Assets case but are firm in their stand that their leader should hold the party reins. The Panneerselvam camp bargained for the PWD portfolio also, but might be willing to settle with Housing and Finance, sources said.

TTV group threat

Meanwhile, T.T.V. Dhinakaran, the sidelined deputy general secretary, met his supporters, including former Ministers and MLAs, at his home here on Saturday.

“We will have to remove Mr. Palaniswami from the post of Chief Minister if the party takes a stand against the jailed interim general secretary V.K. Sasikala, similar to the resolution passed to remove Mr. Dinakaran from the post of deputy general secretary,” P. Palaniappan, a former Minister and a staunch supporter of Mr. Dhinakaran told The Hindu.

“If we find that the driver of the bus is not good... we will have to change the driver. This is essential in the interests of passengers,” he said. It was Sasikala who chose Mr. Palaniswami as the chief minister before she was jailed in Bengaluru.

Dismissing the talk of desertions from his camp, the former Minister, claimed that all those legislators, numbering over 20, supporting Mr. Dhinakaran “were still with us.”

O. Panneerselvam, who met his senior colleagues in the morning, explained that the reasons behind the merger were to see to it that the party of M.G. Ramachandran and Jayalalithaa, be “protected” and the political legacy of the departed leaders be carried on. Later in the day, he told reporters at the Chennai airport that the government led by Mr. Palaniswami would not “collapse because of us.”

The day began with former Minister K.P. Munusamy, known to be a hardliner within the Panneerselvam camp on the issue of removal of jailed interim general secretary of the party, V.K. Sasikala from the party, making a conciliatory statement. While sticking to his stand, he said that he would abide by the decision of Mr Panneerselvam “in the interests of the party and workers.” Otherwise, his position would be construed as if he was charting a different path.

Sources said that as the former Chief Minister and his followers will be in Tirunelveli on Sunday for a function on the occasion of death anniversary of freedom fighter Ondiveeran, a formal announcement is expected on Monday and that the two leaders may even make it jointly.

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Printable version | May 12, 2021 8:05:33 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/positive-result-on-merger-in-a-day-or-two-panneerselvam/article19524137.ece

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