More that a week after the two AIADMK factions formed committees to explore the possibilities of merger, formal talks are yet to begin. While the ruling side that mutinied against the leadership of T T V Dhinakaran and the O Panneerselvam group punching above its weight, claim they see the emergence of a conducive atmosphere by and by, both appear edgy.
When the OPS group insisted on purging jailed general secretary V K Sasikala and said that her posters still adorned the party HQ, the mutineers took the easy route by replacing Sasikala's images with J Jayalalithaa's. Yet Sasikala and Dhinakaran continue to be mentioned as leaders in the fresh affidavits of support they are collecting to submit before the Election Commission of India in the ongoing Two Leaves symbol case. Responding to a query on the apparent contradiction, a minister sought to describe the merger and the affidavits as two separate issues—whatever that means.
Dialectics apart, there is a back channel trying to find a mutually accepted solution for power sharing. There are other forces at work, some of them external, trying to put the Sasikala family genie back in the bottle and ensuring the Delhi Police has a watertight case against Dhinakaran for allegedly trying to bribe the EC for a favourable verdict in the Two Leaves case. And the EC's latest proposal to disqualify candidates chargesheeted for bribing voters has a Dhinakaran context, since he was the party candidate in the recently cancelled RK Nagar elections, where the taxman claimed to have outed his plans to induce voters.
Even if Dhinakaran is taken out of the equation, there appears to be mutual trust deficit. What the party seems to lack is a person of stature who could have played mentor and mediator—like satirist and statesman Cho Ramaswamy, who passed away days after Jaya did. He could have been the umpire, given his record of inducing political alliances in the past.