AIADMK merger talks stuck as rival factions continue to trade charges

O Panneerselvam
The faction headed by Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami in the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) has once again expressed interest in proceeding with the merger of the two rival factions, in an effort to save the party's symbol of two leaves. While both factions had formed committees to conduct the merger discussions more than a week ago, a meeting of these committees is yet to be held.

Senior AIADMK leader and Minister of Finance D Jayakumar, on Saturday reiterated the Palaniswami camp's interest in going ahead with the merger talks.

The faction led by O Panneerselvam had put forward two conditions to be met with before the merger -- the official ouster of V K Sasikala and her family from the party and recommendation of CBI enquiry into J Jayalalithaa's death. This faction has been reiterating its stand that these demands be fulfilled before any merger talk. Panneerselvam' group held a meeting at his residence on Saturday.

While many were expecting the merger talks to take off with the arrest of T T V Dinakaran, deputy general secretary of the party and a relative of Sasikala, both the sides are yet to make a move towards merger. Dinakaran was arrested in connection with a bribery case. Panneerselvam's faction alleges that while Palaniswami's camp is keen to merge, some of its leaders are still supporting Dinakaran.

They point out that while Palaniswami's group has come out with a statement that the Sasikala family will be distanced from the party affairs and a committee of senior leaders will take care of the day-to-day affairs of the party, many members still maintain Sasikala and Dinakaran as their leader.

There are also difference of opinion on who will hold which position, especially with senior leaders Palaniswami and Panneerselvam in the race for the post of Chief Minister. The Panneerselvam faction says that it no other demand except for the ouster of Sasikala's family and the CBI enquiry. The Palaniswami group alleges that the other faction is making new demands every other day and its leaders are not speaking in one voice.

The mysterious death of a watchman in the Kodanadu Estate owned by J Jayalalithaa earlier is also slowly becoming an important development in Tamil Nadu politics. Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders have came out demanding an enquiry into the murder and related allegations of robbery.

Meanwhile, M K Stalin, working president of the opposition Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), has alleged that the BJP-led government at the Centre is using its power to control political developments in the state. He alleged that offices of the Income Tax Department and other agencies have been used to threaten ministers and senior leaders of the ruling party and the Centre is showing more interest in Tamil Nadu's politics than on addressing the issues of its people.


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