2 steps forward, 1 step backward, 1 step sideways

Owing to internal compulsions within the AIADMK, the merger is expected to be a reality on Monday

Published: 19th August 2017 11:26 PM  |   Last Updated: 20th August 2017 10:42 AM   |  A+A-

O Panneerselvam (Left) and E Palaniswami (right)

CHENNAI: It is easier said than done. The much-awaited merger of two factions—AIADMK (Amma) led by Palaniswami and AIADMK (Puratchi Thalaivi Amma) led by Panneerselvam—that was expected to take place on August 18 has hit a roadblock as differences resurfaced over sharing of top positions in the party and government. However, the leaders of both the factions officially deny it. Nonetheless, internal compulsions within the AIADMK are expected to make the merger a reality within a day or two—positively on Monday (Amavasya day), which is considered auspicious by the politicians for making the merger deal.

Last week, the memorial of late Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa was decked up with flowers and two special wreaths were kept ready for the visit of former chief minister O Panneerselvam and Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami for paying respects to their leader as a mark of merger. However, the internal squabbles at Panneerselvam camp marred it. Even after six hours of marathon discussions, Panneerselvam faction could not announce its decision. Party insiders said these leaders had reportedly demanded some key positions for them in the unified AIADMK as well as in the government. But sources said the talks continued till late night and Panneerselvam was able to pacify the hardliners, P Thangamani and SP Velumani, who met him to further iron out the differences over sharing of positions. The key aspects of the merger formula include constituting a 15-member coordination committee headed by Panneerselvam and Palaniswami as joint head. Besides, Panneerselvam and his colleagues would be given ministerial berths.

Ever since the formation of the committees in April for holding talks on merger, progress was not made because the formula for sharing the positions could not be arrived. However, after a few shuttles between Chennai and Delhi, the leaders of the two factions Palaniswami and Panneerselvam mellowed down.To mark this, Palaniswami has made some concrete offers to the AIADMK (PT Amma). Firstly, Palaniswami and his colleagues adopted a resolution nullifying the appointment of TTV Dhinakaran as deputy general secretary of the party and made their intent clear for doing the same to Sasikala. Reacting to this, Panneerselvam said “they have come half way through... Let them across fully.” 
Accordingly, coming across fully, a week later, Palaniswami took the next two concrete steps for the merger—forming an inquiry commission to probe the death of Jayalalithaa and converting her Poes Garden residence as government memorial. 

This time, the leaders of Panneerselvam faction like K Pandiarajan welcomed the move of Palaniswami while hardliners like KP Munusamy, V Maitreyan and Manoj Pandian stuck to their official stand that Sasikala should be ousted from the party as a precondition to hold merger talks.
However, Munusamy on Saturday did not mince words about this hard-line stand on merger. He has gone on record saying that “I am not standing as a hindrance to the merger talks. I have expressed my views in the interest of the party. I am very particular that the office bearers and cadre should be protected (in the course of merger).”

Their story So Far

Following Jayalalithaa’s death, OPS took over as the CM. However, he revolted and Sasikala’s conviction in disproportionate wealth case led to the chaos. Later, the EC froze the party’s Two-Leaves symbol.
Initially, EPS had cordial relationship with TTV, who was appointed the deputy general secretary. However, after Dhinakaran contested the by-election, the relationship started showing strains.

After the EC postponed the by-election on April 10, the AIADMK (Amma) decided to keep away Sasikala family from party to pave way for merger. Meanwhile, TTV was arrested for allegedly trying to bribe EC officials.

Within a few days of TTV Dhinakaran’s arrest, the AIADMK (Amma) formed a seven-member committee to hold talks with AIADMK (PT Amma) for the merger. Panneerselvam also formed 
a committee.

Palaniswami took the first step last week by adopting a resolution declaring the appointment of Dhinakaran as invalid and now, he took another step by fulfilling 
the key demand of O Panneerselvam.

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