A 'good ambience' is evolving for holding merger talks between the two factions of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, O Panneerselvam, who heads one of the camps, said on Tuesday.
Panneerselvam's remark came a day after the two factions were squabbling and blaming each other for the delay in the talks getting off the ground.
"A good ambience is evolving in both the factions for talks," Panneerselvam, whose camp has put stiff conditions for the talks to begin, including expulsion of AIADMK-Amma general secretary V K Sasikala and her nephew and deputy T T V Dinakaran from the party, and a Central Bureau of Investigation probe into the late chief minister J Jayalalithaa's death, said.
The thrice former chief minister, however, did not elaborate.
Coming hours after his close aide E Madusudanan demanded removal of Sasikala's portraits from the party headquarters here "to uphold its sanctity", Panneerselvam's comments indicated a softening of stand, possibly after back channel talks between the two factions. Formal negotiations for merger have not started yet.
"The portraits of Sasikala should be immediately removed from the party headquarters to uphold its sanctity," said Madusudanan, the chairman of the presidium of the AIADMK-Puratchi Thalaivi Amma faction led by Panneerselvam.
Panneerselvam, who held parleys with his supporters, however, did not give any timeline for the commencement of talks which hit a roadblock with his side refusing to abandon its two key demands.
Playing down the demands, Forest Minister Dindigul C Sreenivasan of the camp led by Chief Minister E K Palaniswami said, "We cannot respond to what Madusudanan says."
There has been a buzz about the merger ever since senior ministers led by Palaniswami revolted against Sasikala and Dinakaran.
However, despite formation of committees by the two factions on April 21, the talks have been a non-starter.
Panneerselvam faction had on Monday claimed that the rival camp was in a state of "confusion," a charge rejected by the latter.
The Palaniswami faction has maintained since a case has already been filed in court for a CBI probe into the circumstances leading to Jayalalithaa's death, the Panneerselvam camp should wait for the verdict.
On the demand for expulsion of Sasikala and her family members from the party, it has said related proceedings are pending before the Election Commission challenging her appointment as general secretary.
The Panneerselvam camp has moved the EC challenging the appointment of Sasikala, contending it was done in violation of the party bylaws.
After the revolt, Dinakaran had said he was "stepping aside" but cannot resign as AIADMK deputy general secretary without the approval of Sasikala, who is serving jail term in a disproportionate assets case in which Jayalalithaa was the main accused. Neither of them have been expelled by the Palaniswami faction yet.
Dinakaran is being grilled by the Delhi police in connection with allegations that he tried to bribe an Election Commission official to secure the AIADMK's 'two-leaves' election symbol which has been frozen.
Photograph: R Senthil Kumar/PTI Photo