AIADMK merger: OPS wants proof of Sasikala, Dinakaran ouster before talks with CM Palaniswami
Proposed merger talks between two AIADMK factions have run into fresh trouble with the Panneerselvam camp demanding written proof of the ouster of jailed leader VK Sasikala and her nephew TTV Dinakaran from the partyindia Updated: Apr 20, 2017 18:00 IST
The AIADMK’s Panneerselvam faction on Thursday demanded written proof of the ouster of jailed leader VK Sasikala and her nephew TTV Dinakaran from the party, hardening its stand on starting merger talks with the group led by chief minister E Palaniswami.
The faction led by O Panneerselvam, the ousted chief minister, also sought proof of the rival camp withdrawing its affidavit staking claim to the party’s two-leaves symbol, a bribery allegation over which sparked a fresh crisis in Tamil Nadu’s ruling party.
The EPS camp led by Palaniswami announced on Tuesday that Sasikala and Dinakaran have been “kept out of the party” following allegations that he tried to bribe Election Commission officials for a favourable verdict in both factions’ claim over the symbol.
The EPS camp also said all members of Sasikala’s family, also known as the Mannagurdi mafia, will not be allowed into the party, one of the main grudges of the OPS faction.
The EPS camp’s move was seen as an effort to woo the OPS faction which appeared to have gained the upper hand following Delhi police notice to Dinakaran asking him appear to for questioning in the alleged bribery case.
KP Munuswamy, a senior OPS camp leader, told reporters on Thursday that EPS became the chief minister only with the blessings of Sasikala, who was sent to jail for 20 years by the Supreme Court in a corruption case.
He said they have group sought written proof that Sasikla and Dinakaran have been removed from the primary membership of the AIADMK and proof of withdrawal of their affidavit before the Election Commission.
“Only after we get written proof... that we would start merger talks,” Munuswamy said.
“Unless this is done, we will not even consider talking with the EPS group.”
Panneerselvam had earlier demanded a CBI probe into the death of former chief minister J Jayalalithaa. A cloak of secrecy surrounding Jayalalithaa’s health during her long hospitalisation and her death on December 5 had sparked allegations that she wasn’t given proper treatment and led to conspiracy theories in the state.
Munuswamy said Panneerselvam will be “chosen by the people” as CM in a popular poll.
“OPS was firm on removal of the Mannargudi mafia and a probe into Jayalalithaa’s death. Only after this, the other issues would be discussed,” he added.
However, Lok Sabha deputy speaker M Thambi Durai, who had backed Palaniswami throughout the leadership tussle after Jayalalithaa’s death, ruled out the possibility of replacing the CM.
Thambi Durai’s meeting with governor C Vidyasagar Rao at Raj Bhavan also set tongue wagging but the he described it as a courtesy call.
Sources said both factions were firming up committees that will formally begin merger talks and work out the modalities.
The OPS camp is also said to be seeking the post of general secretary for its senior leader E Madhusudhanan, who is also expected to be the leader the negotiating committee from the former chief minister’s side.
Former education minister M Foi Pandiarajan too is expected to play a crucial role in the merger talks, given the fact that he was the person being talked to by the Lok Sabha deputy speaker.
Finance and fisheries minister D Jayakumar also called on the governor and briefed him about the latest political developments and the possibility of merger between the two groups. The minister is believed to have informed the governor of the possibility of change in the ministerial team, if and when merger talks are concluded.
Thambi Durai later met the chief minister and discussed the developments with him.
Palaniswami, 62, became the chief minister in February after he was propped up as the leader by then AIADMK general secretary Sasikala, just before she was sent to jail.