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'Issues' force EPS and OPS to press pause on AIADMK merger

Source: PTI
August 18, 2017 22:36 IST
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Amid talk of an imminent merger, marathon deliberations that began on Friday in the two factions of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam seem to have made no headway with ticklish issues posing hurdles.

While rebel leader O Panneerselvam held consultations with his loyalists, Chief Minister E Palaniswami held marathon talks with his cabinet colleagues.


On expectation of a merger announcement at the Jayalalithaa mausoleum at Marina Beach late in the evening, security was beefed up there, with several MLAs converging.

However, it soon became apparent that there were hurdles to the merger talks, with leaders of both factions starting to leave the venue.

Party sources indicated that there were “some ticklish issues” that were to be addressed by both groups, but declined to elaborate further.

While the Panneerselvam camp held over four hours of consultations, Palaniswami was closeted with top office-bearers, besides his ministerial colleagues for a long period of time.

With the talks getting prolonged due to “issues”, the expectations for an announcement in this regard on Friday faded.

Jayalalithaa’s burial complex had been decked up and the party office was brightly lit in the wake of expectations of the unification of the AIADMK factions.

Office bearers were seen holding garlands, apparently in anticipation of arrival of leaders of both camps.

The expected late night press meet by Panneerselvam was later deferred.

The merger talks came days after sidelined AIADMK (Amma) leader T T V Dinakaran held a well-attended rally at Madurai in which about 20 legislators and six MPs participated.

This was apparently aimed at charting his own journey and conversely seeking to run rough shod over the Palaniswami and Panneerselvam camps.

Dinakaran and his loyalists sought to showcase the meet as a show of strength and claimed that the party rank and file was largely with them.

The rebellion in the ruling AIADMK and factional feud began with a sudden late night meditation by Panneerselvam in February at the burial site of Jayalalithaa at the Marina Beach where he revolted against Sasikala.

The former chief minister had said that he was forced to resign from his post and asserted that only a person desired by people and cadres should succeed him in the government and party.

Panneerselvam was immediately sacked from his top party post of treasurer, marking the birth of a new rebel faction.

Subsequently, Sasikala named Palaniswami as Legislature Party Leader and she herself had to go to Bengaluru to serve a prison sentence following her conviction in the disproportionate assets case.

Soon, Palaniswami took over as chief minister and his government was ridiculed as a proxy of Sasikala by rebel Panneerselvam, and Opposition parties led by the Dravida Munnetra Kazagham.

In April, in a political twist, Tamil Nadu Cabinet announced sidelining Sasikala and Dinakaran and Palaniswami gradually emerged as leader of a faction of about 122 MLAs in the 234 member assembly.

Palaniswami and his Cabinet colleagues took a stand against Dinakaran in April for the first time after the RK Nagar bypoll was cancelled.

They were also on the same page after Dinarakan was named in a case of trying to bribe Election Commission officials.

Further hardening the stand against Dinakaran, an August 10 meeting chaired by Palaniswami said his appointment went against party by-laws, setting the stage for a formal merger.

Following it up, the government on Thursday announced an inquiry into Jayalalithaa’s death and declared that Amma’s Poes Garden residence will be taken over and turned into a memorial.

By conceding these key demands of the Panneerselvam camp, the process of unification got a fresh impetus and after several rounds of deliberations the merger came through.

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