AIADMK factions continue blame game ahead of merger talks

Former Tamil Nadu chief minister O Pannerselvam. Photo: PTI
The merger talks between the two factions of All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) are expected to commence on Monday evening, even as both blame each other for talking irresponsibly. Former chief minister O Panneerselvam's camp says it has only two demands and that the other faction is confused and controlled by some other people.

Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami and his group of ministers met on Monday morning, ahead of the official merger talks in the evening. Panneerselvam's group has also been holding a meeting since the morning with the members of the committee it formed to hold the discussions.

The leaders of the committees formed by both factions to conduct the merger talks have alleged accused the opposite camp of delaying talks and spreading a misinformation campaign about the merger.

R Vaithilingam, who heads the merger committee formed by the Palaniswami group said the leaders of Panneerelvam camp are speaking irresponsibly and are not responding to their messages to conduct the meeting. He said the government is ready to conduct a judicial enquiry or seek Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) enquiry into the death of former chief minister and party chief J Jayalalithaa while adding that Panneerselvam was chief minister for 60 days after her death and he could have already issued an order for enquiry.

K P Munusamy, who is heading the seven-member committee formed by the O Panneerselvam faction to hold the merger talks, on Monday afternoon told the media that the faction has only two demands - to conduct a CBI enquiry on former chief minister J Jayalalithaa's treatment and death and to expel party General Secretary V K Sasikala, who is in a Bengaluru prison now, and her relative and party deputy general secretary TTV Dinakaran from AIADMK.

"We are making it clear that we have only these two demands and if these are agreed upon, we will not ask for anything else," he told reporters. However, he alleged that it was the other faction which came forward proposing the merger, but in the last two days their leaders are speaking different things on confusion. 

"It seems they themselves are confused and are controlled by some others. How will we believe that they will stick to our demands even if we agree to merge?" he asked.

There have been speculations that both the factions should agree upon what position O Panneerselvam would hold in the party after the merger and the positions he would ask for those who stood by him in the tough times. Whether Panneerselvam would claim for the chief ministerial post or would be satisfied with any other ministerial post or party leadership positions is a question raised by the political analysts.

D Jayakumar, a senior leader who handles the charge as a finance minister in the cabinet has offered to hand over the ministry to Panneerselvam if it is needed. This has generated another speculation that the Palaniswami faction do not want to hand over the chief ministership to Panneerselvam, but could offer the post which he held for several years in the Jayalalithaa government earlier.

The development (merger) talks initiated after a series of political dramas in the state, including an income tax raid at Tamil Nadu Health Minister's house, and FIR against AIADMK deputy general secretary Dinakaran for allegedly bribing Election Commission officials for grant of the 'Two Leaves' symbol of the party.

Later the cabinet ministers decided to keep V K Sasikala's and Dinakaran's family out of the affairs of the party and the government. 

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