CHENNAI: Even as leaders from both factions of the AIADMK continued to parrot that merger talks would commence in a conducive atmosphere, it proved to be elusive on Saturday as well.
An announcement that former Chief Minister O Panneerselvam would address an important press meet at 11.30 am was cancelled in the eleventh hour and was rescheduled to 2 pm. Much to the disappointment of the media, it was also cancelled. But, Panneerselvam went into a huddle with the seven-member committee at his newly rented house in Venus Colony.
Later, taking questions from media persons, C Ponnaiyan, a senior leader in the OPS faction, said a conducive atmosphere for talks was nearing and it would be held, but hastened to add that certain things could not be revealed to the media.
Denying reports that the OPS faction had demanded the Chief Minister and party general secretary posts, Ponnaiyan said, “Neither we have demanded nor they have refused.”
Asked why both factions were busy filing affidavits obtained from party functionaries before the Election Commission even while trying to hold merger talks, he said, “Both are altogether different. Once the merger takes place, these affidavits will automatically lapse. Both factions wish that the merger should take place in a cordial atmosphere,” he said, requesting the media to cooperate.
But, V Maitreyan, MP, another key leader in the OPS faction, struck a different note. “Talks will not begin unless the two pre-conditions were met by the EPS faction,” he said categorically. Asked about the collection of affidavits supporting VK Sasikala and TTV Dhinakaran, he said, “While claiming that Sasikala family has been kept out, collecting affidavits in their names is nothing but a drama,” he said.
Meanwhile, Finance Minister D Jayakumar, after receiving petitions from party functionaries about their grievances, said, “The ball is in their (OPS faction’s) court. The atmosphere is conducive for talks.”
On the ‘group meetings’ among MLAs from Kongu belt and the SC/ST MLAs, he denied any such development and accused the DMK of spreading such canards.
To a query, he said, “CM Edappadi Palaniswami, who is party headquarters secretary is leading the party as well.”