OPS will get party, EPS to head government

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CHENNAI: AIADMK factions headed by chief minister Edappadi K Palaniswami and O Pannerselvam moved closer to a merger with the latter dropping his claim to the chief minister’s post, but stepping up the demand for the expulsion of K Sasikala from the party. OPS may now settle for the deputy chief minister’s post, besides a few portfolios for his men, if he is made the chairman of a steering committee that would run the party affairs till a formal election is held.

In short, EPS will head the government and OPS the party. The OPS faction has insisted that the resolution expelling Sasikala should be signed by all office-bearers. Lok Sabha deputy speaker M Thambidurai was not a signatory to the decision to remove TTV Dhinakaran from the deputy general secretary post on August 10. Thambidurai is party’s propaganda secretary and MPs A Navaneethakrishnan and Vijila Satyanand — who also refused to sign the previous resolution — head the advocates’ wing and the women’s wing.

“We will announce the good news in a few days,” OPS said on Saturday after forming a six-member negotiation team. EPS reciprocated, saying the remaining issues will be sorted out through talks.

Any truce between the two factions will also brighten the prospects of the Election Commission de-freezing the ‘two leaves’ party symbol. TTV Dhinakaran, however, could pose new legal hurdles to keep the symbol blocked. On the national front, this peace brokered by the BJP would make things less easy for the UPA in the 2019 elections as a merged AIADMK is likely to sail with the NDA.

Having reconciled that he may not get to be CM soon, OPS wants the general secretary post reserved for him as and when elections are held.

The party general secretary post has to be filled through an election in which all the primary members of the AIADMK will have voting rights.

OPS supporters say the ball is now in EPS’s court. The EPS faction has suggested that after the merger, a general council meeting could be held to remove Sasikala. On the demand for a CBI probe into Jayalalithaa’s death, EPS is of the view that if the single-judge commission recommends, it could be ordered.

While EPS was away in Tiruvarur to participate in an MGR centenary function on Saturday, OPS, along with senior leaders, left for Tirunelveli on Saturday evening to participate in a function to observe the death anniversary of Ondiveeran, a dalit leader, on Sunday.

Talks can resume, at the earliest, only on Monday, said sources. In Tiruvarur, Palaniswami said there were “some differences” between the two factions. “I am happy to say that the factions will merge by sorting out the issues through talks,” he told reporters. He refused to react to queries as to whether the deputy CM post would be given to OPS.

OPS, meanwhile, brushed aside reports about discord within his group. A meeting of his camp on Friday witnessed debates on the conditions for the merger.

The OPS group’s negotiation team comprises K P Munusamy , Natham R Viswanathan, V Maitreyan, Manoj K Pandian, S Semmalai and J C D Prabhakaran. The members met and deliberated on Saturday.

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