Palaniswami, Panneerselvam Move Towards Merger But Many Bumps Remain

Mergers Of AIADMK Factions A Few Steps Away

While this is a significant step in healing the rift with the breakaway faction led by former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O Panneerselvam (OPS), senior leaders in the breakaway faction described the resolution as a half measure. The resolution, signed by the office-bearers including Palaniswami, was released to the media after the meet.

Alleging that the Chief Minister has indulging in anti-party activities, he said "they don't even know that they have committed a mistake by using the letterhead of the AIADMK". This is because he had been expelled from the party in 2011 by late Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, and had thus not been a member of the party for five consecutive years, as mandated.

The OPS camp has demanded for Sasikala's expulsion from the party and has also asked for the chief's position and CM chair for O Panneerselvam. The Panneerselvam faction now has the backing of 10 MLAs, down from 12 in February after two legislators moved back to the Palaniswamy camp.

He claimed that the chief minister's camp had wantonly misinterpreted party rules to say that his appointment was against the party law and also questioned their using the letterhead of undivided AIADMK which was barred by the EC. The resolution is said to be the result of backdoor negotiations between two factions of the AIADMK to make way for a merger. For the first time, Panneerselvam indicated that the merger efforts could see the light of the day when he said any decision on unification would keep in mind the "aspirations and wishes of the cadre". Nobody can remove the two leaders from party posts, he said indicating the thinking in the Dinakaran camp. Recently, Dinakaran had rewarded 20 MLAs with party posts for supporting the government. "But I can tell you that will not happen", a Dinakaran loyalist said.

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All these developments incidentally alarmed the BJP, which instructed both the factions to immediately merge.

The merger is crucial for the AIADMK to get back its two leaves symbol - that was frozen after the split - that is necessary to reach out to the masses easily.

Though there are few elements in the party who support Dhinakaran, soon they will be "disciplined", party insiders said. Political observers believe that instance made one more thing clear - the power that Naidu wields and his future role in Tamil Nadu politics, until he became the vice-president of the country.

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