NEW DELHI / CHENNAI: After months of taking one step forward and several back, merger talks between rival factions of the AIADMK got a fresh boost on Thursday as Chief Minister ‘Edappadi’ K Palaniswami declared the appointment of TTV Dhinakaran as party deputy general secretary illegal. He said the return of Dhinakaran after a gap of five years, on February 14, and his appointment the very next day as the deputy general secretary violated party rules.
The ruling faction has now virtually ousted Dhinakaran, besides invalidating the recent appointments made by him. “They will not be binding on any of the cadre,” the faction said. A resolution to this effect was adopted at a meeting chaired by the Chief Minister at the party headquarters on Thursday.
Significantly, the resolution copy was not signed by KA Sengottaiyan and Dindigul Srinivasan, who were appointed by VK Sasikala as presidium chairman and treasurer.
Though the resolution did not openly question the appointment of Sasikala, the intent to sideline her was clear. “Due to an extraordinary situation, she is not able to discharge her duties. Further, many have approached the Election Commission to nullify her appointment,” the carefully-worded statement read.
Despite these developments, success of merger talks also hinges on the power-sharing formula being worked out between the incumbent and former Chief Ministers. One of the options being discussed is that Palaniswami continues as the Chief Minister and Panneerselvam join him as his deputy with the key portfolios like Home and Public Welfare Department.
Sources say figures close to Panneerselvam, like Rajya Sabha member V Maitreyan, are opposed to him accepting the downgraded post of a deputy Chief Minister. Whether Maitreyan will be allowed to be a stumbling block in the negotiations or simply sidelined needs to be seen.
The second formula is that Panneerselvam is appointed as party general secretary, with or without the deputy Chief Minister post, to help him retain his stature. Yet another contentious point is how many portfolios the Chief Minister is willing to spare for MLAs of the rebel faction.
There’s little doubt that a merger is in the interest of both factions. The BJP, especially Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is willing to formally accommodate the AIADMK in the NDA, provided it’s a stable and merged entity, and even allocate Central portfolios. “I hope the merger happens before August 15,” said Commercial Taxes Minister KC Veeramani, indicating a deal may be within reach. Full coverage: P2