CHENNAI: From the cusp of a much-anticipated merger, the factions of the AIADMK returned to square one on Thursday, after the rebels hardened their stand by raising allegations of large-scale corruption against the ruling faction including even the Chief Minister, and put forth a series of demands before the negotiations could even begin.
As damning as these charges of ‘empire of corruption’ were, ministers and senior leaders of the ruling faction responded rather tamely to these allegations. But the handful, who remain loyal to under-fire deputy general secretary TTV Dhinakaran, who have now been sidelined by the seniors who rose in mutiny, returned fire for fire, attacking rebels for levelling the worst of insults and ridiculed the ministers for their tepid response.
Incidentally, the factional chieftains — rebel leader O Panneerselvam, Chief Minister ‘Edappadi’ K Palaniswami and deputy general secretary TTV Dhinakaran — stayed away, instead fielding their lieutenants to fight the battle.
There was hectic activity right from the morning, with Lok Sabha deputy speaker M Thambidurai and minister D Jayakumar calling on Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao at Raj Bhavan. They then headed to meet Chief Minister Palaniswami, which gave rise to speculations that the pre-merger moves were being hastened.
However, all this evaporated in just a few hours, when senior rebel leader KP Munusamy took stage at around 3 pm. By the time he finished less than an hour later, during which he alleged the chief minister and cabinet of being corrupt and bounden to bete noire VK Sasikala’s family, it was clear that the merger was off the table, at least as of now.
The volatility in the scenario, coupled with their eagerness to distance themselves from the faction against which they had raised serious allegations, the rebels are now eyeing acquisition, even a hostile takeover, instead of a merger.