CHENNAI: After breathing fire during high-voltage media interactions over the last few days, squabbling factions of the ruling AIADMK made a strategic retreat from saber-rattling on Friday. Instead, they formed internal committees to hold negotiations on the merger.
On Friday morning, Chief Minister ‘Edappadi’ K Palaniswami decided to form a seven-member committee headed by Rajya Sabha member R Vaithilingam to hold talks with the rebel faction, sources said. However, unlike over the past few days, the ministers and leaders refused to elaborate on what transpired during the Chief Minister’s meeting that was held at the party headquarters.
In fact, SP Velumani, a key player in the developments that are unfolding, said the Chief Minister had directed them not to speak to the media.
“He has directed Vaithilingam to be here at the party headquarters. If they come forward for the negotiations, he will be here, and we will join as and when required,” Velumani said.
The response from the rebel camp was quick. Former minister KP Munusamy, whose sharp comments against the ruling faction caused concerns a day ago, announced that their leader O Panneerselvam too had decided to form a committee to hold talks.
Later, the rebels announced seven-member team headed by former minister KP Munusamy to take part in the discussions. It is not clear when the talks would begin, though insiders say it is likely only on Monday as many ministers are travelling to monitor drought relief works.In rare show of support since the mutiny broke out, minister ‘Kadambur’ S Raju insisted TTV Dhinakaran remain as party’s deputy secretary.
"We demand that an affidavit be submitted by the other camp stating that Sasikala and T.T.V Dinakaran no longer hold party position to the Election Commission. If this is done, we will consider it as first victory to our faction," former state minister and AIADMK member K. P. Munusamy said.
The OPS camp further alleged that Palanisamy is devising new ways to prevent the merger from taking place.
"Current Chief Minister Palaniswami, who was appointed at the mercy of Sasikala, is not acting as the AIADMK Chief Minister rather he is acting as the Chief Minister of Sasikala and her family," he said.
In response, the Palaniswami-led group asked the other faction to take back its complaint regarding party symbol.
"Their camp went to EC first on the symbol issue, let them take back their complaint first," AIADMK MP R. Vaithilingam said.
Regarding the second demand for a probe on Jayalalithaa's death, Vaithilingam said the demand for the same is under the court's consideration, adding the government will follow the order.
The talks for a merger gained ground after an FIR was registered against Dinakaran for bribing the Election Commission officials for staking claim of the 'Two Leaves' party symbol.
Following this, Sukesh Chandrasekhar, Dinakaran's alleged middleman was arrested by police for striking a deal of Rs. 50 crore to help the AIADMK faction keep the 'two leaves' poll symbol.
(with inputs from ANI)