The Panneerselvam faction of the AIADMK faction has hardened its stance for merger talks, demanding that the faction led by Chief Minister K Palaniswami formally expel AIADMK general secretary V K Sasikala and TTV Dhinakaran besides about 30 other members of their family from the party.
Talks for merger between the two factions appeared to have hit a roadblock with the former chief minister Panneerselvam’s camp laid down conditions including a CBI probe into the circumstances that led to former CM Jayalalithaa’s death.
Panneerselvam also wants withdrawal of affidavits submitted to the Election Commission declaring Sasikala and Dhinakaran as party general secretary and deputy general secretary, respectively.
“We are getting information that since he (Dhinakaran) was entangled in several cases, in order to free him, Sasikala’s family has used them (Palaniswami camp),” KP Munusamy of the OPS faction said.
In an indication that patch-up could be a herculean task, he said only Panneerselvam had the support of people and cadres and the rival camp was “afraid” that the majority of MLAs only favoured Panneerselvam for the Chief Minister’s post.
He also dubbed Chief Minister Palaniswami as a nominee of jailed leader Sasikala.
AIADMK Rajya Sabha MP, R Vaithilingam of the Palaniswami camp confirmed that Dhinakaran had already stepped aside.
“There is no drama. We compelled him (Dhinakaran) to step aside and he did it happily,” Vaithilingam said.
Responding to Munusamy, Vaithilingam said they had not put forth any conditions for talks. He also added that they would “happily” sit for negotiations considering party’s welfare.
“Respecting the sentiments of 1.5 crore party workers, to redeem the lost ‘Two Leaves’ party symbol and give good governance for the rest of four and a half years, we will take all (required) steps,” he said.
(With inputs from PTI)