CHENNAI: Former Chief Minister O Panneerselvam, who heads the rebel faction of the AIADMK, was denied an audience with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah during his visit to New Delhi on Friday. This was in contrast to the series of meetings Chief Minister ‘Edappadi’ K Palaniswami had with Modi, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, President Ram Nath Kovind and Vice President Venkaiah Naidu.
Unfailingly, this gave an impression that the BJP leadership was not happy with Panneerselvam’s handling of the merger talks with the ruling faction led by Palaniswami. The BJP is said to be playing a key role in nudging both the factions for a merger.
However, sources in Panneerselvam’s camp said he left New Delhi on Saturday morning due to changes in his travel plans. He intended to visit Rishikesh, but due to lack of time, headed to Shirdi Saibaba temple via Mumbai. They refused to say why Panneerselvam could not meet Modi or Shah. Though speculations were rife that he might meet senior BJP leader Nitin Gadkari or some other senior leader in Mumbai, no such high-profile meeting took place — or was officially announced, at least.
When asked about Panneerselvam’s remark that the “AIADMK (Amma) had come only halfway, let them come across fully,” Deputy Speaker of Lok Sabha M Thambidurai quipped: “By his own statement, Panneerselvam has admitted that AIADMK (Amma) had come halfway... so if Panneerselvam too makes a move to cover the remaining half, it will conclude in the merger.”
BUT otherwise, there were no visible developments on Saturday towards the merger of the factions led by Panneerselvam and Palaniswami. Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami did not attend office at secretariat or he did not meet anyone officially. Almost all senior ministers were said to have gone to their native districts to monitor the measures being taken for prevention of the spread of dengue fever.
TTV Dhinakaran, who is not virtually heading the third camp in the ruling party, was camping at Thanjavur on Saturday and is likely to return to Chennai on Tuesday. He is moving ahead with his plans of a state-wide tours. He has planned to start it with a public meeting at Melur near Madurai on Monday.
While the BJP top brass is said to be desired for the merger of Panneerselvam and Palaniswami factions of the AIADMK, senior BJP leader Subramanian Swamy, reiterated his stance in support of party’s general secretary VK Sasikala. “As far as I know, the AIADMK headed by VK Sasikala is the real/genuine AIADMK,” he told reporters on Saturday at Chennai airport.