CHENNAI: Belying expectations of a significant development regarding merger of the ruling AIADMK factions, the day concluded without any apparent progress despite a series of discussions by all involved. Such was the day that the only concrete comment on merger came from the leader of the third camp, deputy general secretary TTV Dhinakaran, who insisted that the other two factions would not be able to come together without his group.
Both Palaniswami and rebel leader O Panneerselvam chaired the high-level committee meetings of their respective factions, which triggered speculations about progress in merger moves. Palaniswami also held discussions with N Thalavai Sundaram and Thanga Thamizhselvan, two key Dhinakaran supporters, at the secretariat.While senior ministers from ruling AIADMK (Amma) repeated that talks were on at various levels and the merger would take place soon, the leaders of rebel AIADMK (Puratchi Thalaivi Amma) did not give any positive signal, preferring to stick to their stand.
Stating that the rank and file of the party was eagerly awaiting the merger of two factions, Finance Minister D Jayakumar said talks were on and that a cordial decision would be arrived soon. Though Panneerselvam dissolved the committee formed to hold talks, “discussions on merger have been continuing at various levels and will reach a conclusion,” he said.
Asked about Dhinakaran’s announcement that he would be back into active party work from August 5, Jayakumar preferred an indirect reply. “The party and government are now being led by Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami in an efficient manner. As such, we don’t bother about others.” Rebel leader K Pandiarajan said the conditions they put forward were still unmet.
The question of leadership is among the unsettled matters. “We expect the Election Commission’s ruling on the validity of Sasikala’s appointment very soon. We hope her appointment will be nullified, and at that point, the responsibility of running the party affairs will naturally come on Panneerselvam, the treasurer, and presidium chairman E Madhusudanan,” he said.
Meanwhile, talking to mediapersons, Dhinakaran said he would continue to work for the party’s victory in 2019 Lok Sabha polls, making it clear to the two factions that he was back to being active after the two-month cool off period that Sasikala asked him to take ends on August 5. As the deputy general secretary of the party, he would tour the nook and corner of the State to meet the party cadre and grassroots level functionaries in the coming days, said Dhinakaran, adding that he would announce his complete plan on Friday.
“I welcome the merger of factions — if it happens. But I am sure it will not happen because I know what is going on in the party. How can they come together without us?”
Amidst all these developments, Dhinakaran is meeting Sasikala in Bengaluru prison on Wednesday to discuss the party affairs, ahead of the 60-day deadline coming to an end.
‘Relationship with Centre for State’s benefit’
When asked about rumours that AIADMK (Amma) has decided to join NDA govt, triggered by the State ’s increasing closeness to Centre, Finance Minister D Jayakumar evaded a direct reply. “We maintain a cordial relationship with the present government at the Centre only in the interest of the State and its people,” the minister said