CHENNAI: The AIADMK factions headed by Tamil Nadu CM Edappadi K Palaniswami (EPS) and O Panneerselvam (OPS) moved closer to a merger on Saturday, with the latter dropping his claim to the CM’s post, but stepping up the demand for the expulsion of general secretary V K Sasikala from the party.
OPS may settle for the post of deputy chief minister, with a few portfolios for his aides, if he is made the chairman of a steering committee entrusted with 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 be signed by all office-bearers. Lok Sabha deputy speaker M Thambidurai, AIADMK propaganda secretary, was not a signatory to the August 10 decision to remove TTV Dhinakaran as party deputy general secretary, and neither were MPs A Navaneethakrishnan and Vij ila Satyanand.
“We will announce the good news in a few days,” OPS said on Saturday after forming a six-member negotiation team. EPS said there were “some differences” between the two factions, but added, “I am happy to say that the factions will merge by sorting out the issues through talks.”
Any truc e between the two factions will also brighten the prospects of the Election Commission de-freezing AIADMK’s ‘two leaves’ symbol. Dhinakaran, however, could pose new legal hurdles to keep the symbol blocked.
On the national front, this peace brokered by BJP would make things less easy for UPA in the 2019 elections as a merged AIADMK is likely to sail with NDA.
R econciled to the fact that he may not get to be CM soon, OPS wants the general secretary’s post reserved for him as and when elections are held. The post has to be filled through an election in which all the primary members of AIADMK will have voting rights.
OPS supporters say the ball is now in EPS’s cou rt. The EPS faction has suggested that after the merger, a general council meeting 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 so recommen ds, it could be ordered.
While EPS was away in Thiruvarur on Saturday for an MGR birth centenary function, OPS 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.
Meanwhile, members of the TTV camp seemed readying for a showdown, as Dhinakaran held a meeting with his supporters at his house on Saturday.