CHENNAI: The mood of the supporters of O Panneerselvam, who gathered at his official residence on Greenways Road on Monday, was euphoria and excitement, expecting the elusive merger to materialise in a matter of hours. The leader, who was in the spotlight, went into a huddle with the top honchos of his AIADMK-PTA, discussing certain issues that came in way of the merger.
The crowd began to erupt in anticipation when the clock ticked 12 noon as OPS was stated to leave for the AIADMK headquarters. The supporters stood on the portico expecting to greet their leader by offering him bouquets and shawls. But soon, it turned out to be a ‘Waiting for Godot’ episode.
Word on further bottlenecks in the merger trickled down, and the distraught partymen began to disperse in disappointment. The mediapersons gathering outside his residence grew impatient. The word doing the rounds was the rebels’ insistence on an announcement of removal of interim general secretary of the party, VK Sasikala, to be made before they step into the party headquarters.
Another cause for the delay was said to be the slow process of the Chief Minister issuing orders to induct OPS and his nominees into the Cabinet.
When it seemed things were headed for an anti-climax, as on Friday, the cadre began to chant slogans hailing OPS as a car ferrying Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami’s emissaries, SP Velumani (Minister for Municipal Administration and Rural Development), P Thangamani (Minister for Electricity) and R Vaithilingam (Rajya Sabha member), rolled into the residence of OPS.
Later OPS’ car too began to move from the portico ending days of uncertainty.
Several OPS supporters seemed worried over their future in the unified party, a concern former minister KP Munusamy raised during the crucial meeting on Friday.
“I must be given the post of bloc secretary in the party but I don’t know what will happen,” said a local leader who has been with OPS since his rebellion.
Another functionary from Thiruvallur was cautious. “We are not in favour, however, we accept it because they have promised to completely push out the Sasikala family.”
One of the senior leaders of the erstwhile rebel faction of the AIADMK and MLA representing the Mettur segment, S Semmalai, remained a completely disappointed man after his name was missing from the list of ministers to be inducted into the Cabinet.
It came as surprise to see the missing name of Semmalai, widely touted to be made a minister when the reshuffling was announced on Monday following the merger. “I am disappointed.” Semmalai was a minister during the AIADMK regime in 2001-06, effectively handling the portfolios of Health and Education. “As far as I am concerned, the two demands are not fully fulfilled. Anyhow, they justified our demands,” he told Express.However, he felt there must be an equal opportunity for both sides.