The OPS and EPS factions in the AIADMK are locked in a struggle for power making reunion a difficult task.
The possibility of a merger between the OPS and EPS factions has run into rough weather. Knowing well that Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami is on the back foot as many of his ministers may find themselves in trouble with the Enforcement Directorate and Election Commission, the O Paneerselvam camp has now started dictating terms for a merger.
This comes after the EPS faction had, after great trouble and pressure, agreed to boot out jailed party general secretary Sasikala and her nephew and party’s acting general secretary TTV Dinakaran.
The demand number one from the OPS camp is that OPS should be made the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu once again.
The second demand is that Madhusudhanan, the OPS man who was candidate from RK Nagar constituency, should be made party general secretary.
Senior berths in the new cabinet under OPS should be occupied by OPS loyalists. That’s demand three.
And, the last demand is that the Manargudi gang of Sasikala loyalists in the legislature should be sidelined.
There is also a demand to sack Health Minister Vijaybhaskar and other ministers who are under the scanner of the Enforcement Directorate.
But the EPS camp feels a change of guard at the helm would not be wise for Tamil Nadu that got three CMs in the last six months.
Moreover, the Edappadi camp, which holds has a strong backing from the Kongu region with 47 MLAs, will not agree to any of the four demands from the OPS camp.
In fact, Lok Sabha deputy speaker M Thambidurai on Wednesday made it clear that Palaniswami would continue as chief minister. “He won a trust vote with 122 MLAs endorsing his leadership. Thus he will continue and there is no change in that stand. We will hold talks for a merger and iron out issues,” he added.
Both the groups have now formed panels to hold further talks. But this cannot go on for eternity as elections to the local bodies are fast approaching and return of two leaves symbol is vital for the AIADMK.
Meanwhile, in a surprise development, the AIADMK mouthpiece accused the BJP and DMK of fishing in troubled waters. While the charges against the DMK may hold water, dragging in the BJP was indeed a bit of a surprise.
It is well-known that the BJP is keen to occupy the vacuum left in Tamil Nadu after the demise of Jayalalihtaa. It is also known that the BJP has a soft corner for OPS.
The ultimate gameplan of the BJP is to support and prop up OPS and then later make him merge with the BJP – just as what was done in Arunachal Pradesh and Assam.