CHENNAI: Efforts for merging the two factions of the AIADMK continued on Friday amid the threat of a no-trust motion against the Edappadi K Palaniswami government from DMK working president MK Stalin, with the six-month cap for moving it coming to an end next week.
However, a confident Palaniswami told media at Delhi, “We are ready to face the no-trust motion. When the DMK moved a no-trust motion against the Speaker, we won that. This time too, we will win by more votes.”
However, TTV Dhinakaran, whose appointment as deputy general secretary was called null and void by the ruling party on Thursday, kept up the pressure in the unfolding numbers game. At Thanjavur, he held discussions with 12 MLAs who are supporting him on their next moves. He had appointed 20 MLAs to party posts last week. Only two declined the posts.
Legislator Thanga Thamizh Selvan, one of the staunch supporters of Dhinakaran, issued a threat, saying: “We, the 122 MLAs formed this government. So far, we did not think of bringing down this government. But after nullifying the appointment of Dhinakaran by a resolution passed by a handful of ministers, we won’t remain mere spectators.”
But Palaniswami appeared unfazed. Retaliating to the mud-slinging by Dhinakaran’s loyalists, who dubbed him and the ministerial team as “420 persons”, the CM said: “The description of 420 is apt only to him (Dhinakaran). You have witnessed what happened during the past three months. So, the description suits him the best.”
The Chief Minister on Friday met Prime Minister Narendra Modi for about 20 minutes, but former CM O Panneerselvam who is leading the party’s rebel group did not. Sources said he would be meeting Modi on Saturday. Senior leaders in the both factions remained tight-lipped about the further moves on the merger. They said there was a ‘gag order’ issued to them not to rush to the media until all contentious issues were amicably settled.
Sources, however, said the sticking point was the allocation of positions in the party and the government. Allocation of portfolios of finance, public works, home is among other things being discussed, they hinted. Leaders of both factions are keen on wrapping up the merger before Dhinakaran addresses his first public meeting on August 14 at Melur.
The merger move took another visible step in Delhi on Friday with Panneerselvam filing an additional affidavit before the Election Commission of India based on the resolution adopted by the ruling faction, which nullified the appointment of Dhinakaran as deputy general secretary. This is aimed at strengthening their case that the EC should quash the appointment of VK Sasikala as party general secretary.
The affidavit filed by V Maitreyan, one of the key leaders of the OPS camp, pointed out that the earlier affidavits filed by the ruling group in support of Sasikala and Dhinakaran were false and should not be considered while taking the call on the contentious leadership issue. The affidavit also found fault with the resolution for not calling the appointment of Sasikala illegal.
The affidavit said, “At this stage it would be worthwhile to note that the signatories of the present resolution, have previously filed affidavits in support of VK Sasikala and TTV Dhinakaran in the dispute pending before the Commission. Therefore, it is clear by implication that the affidavits filed by them were false and in any case cannot be considered by the Commission.”
“Curiously, the resolution contradicts itself by not applying the same legal reasoning to the case of Sasikala in so far as it relates to her purported appointment as general secretary of the party. In fact it sidesteps the issue by stating that her appointment is sub judice before the Commission.”
Moreover, by filing this additional affidavit, the AIADMK (PT Amma) indicated that they are keen on seeking an expeditious ruling from the EC on the validity of the appointment of Sasikala. If the Commission rules that the appointment is invalid, it would work in favour of the faction led by O Panneerselvam.