Hectic talks are on in Chennai for a merger of the two AIADMK factions. The deal is that Sasikala and her nephew TTV Dinakaran would be booted out.
Never short of drama, the two AIADMK factions held a series of late night talks in Chennai that pointed out at a merger between the two groups. Sources said the deal being worked out is that the merger will happen by booting out Sasikala and her nephew TTV Dinakaran from the party.
The deal also talks of Edapadi Palaniswami continuing as the chief minister of Tamil Nadu while the reins of the AIADMK party will go to O Paneerselvam.
The wrinkles that are being ironed out are about sharing of the spoils of power between the two factions. There are also talks of a third pro-Sasikala group emerging comprising of her relatives and diehard loyalists within the legislative party.
Both the groups have two things in common after merger: the two leaves party symbol and avoiding either President’s Rule or elections.
The merger talks gained momentum after the Delhi police filed an FIR that named Dinakaran for trying to bribe Election Commission officials to get the two-leaves symbol.
If the case against Dinakaran leads to his arrest, the AIADMK faction led by Sasikala would be without a party general secretary. This would be a major embarrassment to the MLAs supporting Sasikala and they are jittery over this twist. This is why they are ready to ditch Sasikala and Dinakaran and sail along with the OPS faction.
Many ministers are also nervous over the fact that documents seized during the recent I-T raids at health minister C Vijayabaskar’s residence had reportedly implicated the Chief Minister and some ministers.
But Sasikala and Dinakaran, and their staunch supporters, are not likely to give up without a fight. Isolating Sasikala would mean that she will have to remain in jail and can as well end her dreams of a political comeback. OPS is also likely to rake up politically sensitive issues against Sasikala, especially her role in Jayalalithaa’s death and her occupation of the late chief minister’s Poes Garden residence.
Loyalists close to OPS are confident of a merger. “OPS is spear-heading the talks. And he is known to be an accommodative person. The merger will happen,” a source said. He expressed confidence that Sasikala faction leaders would approach OPS for merger talks.
Another signal of a merger came from Lok Sabha deputy speaker M Thambidurai who belongs to the Sasikala faction. He welcomed Panneerselvam’s call for unity. “If he (OPS) comes forward, we will work in unison,” he told reporters at the secretariat, after holding a long meeting with Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami.
“All of us, including Panneerselvam, won in the two-leaves symbol and due to Amma’s campaign. Our aim is to see Amma’s government continue and it needs the support of everyone. We are hopeful of getting it. It is just differences of opinion among ourselves. This will be sorted out,” he said.
AIADMK leaders are also aware that the split in the party would only strengthen the hands of the opposition DMK.