With Sasikala and Dinakaran out, AIADMK merger talks on Monday

O Panneerselvam
Merger talks between the two factions in the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) are expected to move a step ahead with seven-member committees from each side scheduled to meet on Monday.

The AIADMK Puratchi Thalaivi Amma faction, led by former Chief Minister O Panneerselvam, has announced the setting up of a committee to oversee merger talks with the camp headed by Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edapadi K Palanisamy.

The development (merger) came after 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 T T V 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. This has been a key condition set by Panneerselvam, who in February alleged that he was forced to quit as Chief Minister by Sasikala and Dinakaran along with senior ministers. He was sacked from the party by Sasikala, who took over as General Secretary.

The Cabinet Ministers decision paved way for the merger talks between the two factions, but the stalemate continues over two other conditions put by Panneerselvam faction -- a CBI probe into Jayalalithaa's death and the official expulsion of Sasikala and her family from the party.

While the question remains whether Panneerselvam would get the Chief Minister's seat, the other faction, consisting of Ministers, said it would continue to work under current Chief Minister Edapadi Palaniswami.

Sources within the party say there are chances that while Panneerselvalm will become chief minister, considering he was widely accepted by the public, Palaniswamy may become AIADMK chief. Currently Sasikala is the AIADMK chief, and she is in jail in a disproportionate asset case.

Commercial Taxes Minister K C Veeramani, who claimed that he was the first to raise a voice against Sasikala and her family, in a recent public meeting said he could not come out and attend any of the public functions for nearly four months, since he could not face the public. 

One or two Ministers, including Health Minister Vijayabaskar whose house was raided by the IT Department recently, are also likely to be dropped from the Cabinet. The move will pave the way for Panneerselvam supporters to get ministerial berths.

The Panneerselvam camp will be led by K P Munuswamy, while V Maitreyan and Ma Foi K Pandiarajan would be other members in the seven-member committee. Pandiarajan was the only cabinet minster who supported Panneerselvam.

Amid the power struggle, Dinakaran today appeared before the Police in New Delhi in the Election Commission bribing case.

Meanwhile Palaniswami, who is leaving for Delhi to attend the Niti Aayog's national meet, is expected to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday. He is also expected to meet the Tamil Nadu farmers who are protesting in Delhi, to convince them to call off the agitation.

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