Despite delay, AIADMK factions hint at merger

Former Tamil Nadu chief minister O Panneerselvam. PTI File

"No one can separate us, we are children of Amma (J Jayalalithaa), and we are brothers", said Mr Panneerselvam, who shook hands with Mr Palaniswami in a joint appearance at the AIADMK's headquarters in Chennai as they announced the move to reunite.

Panneerselvam will also be the AIADMK coordinator while Palaniswami will be the co-coordinator of the ruling party in Tamil Nadu.

The announcement of merger was formally announced by both Palaniswami and Panneerselvam on the auspicious occasion of Amavasya, marking a Red-letter day in the AIADMK history.

The handshake between the leaders, state CM E Palaniswami and former CM O Panneerselvam, heading the rival factions of Tamil Nadu's AIADMK party, appears to have brought down the proverbial curtains on the intra-party feud, according to media reports.

TTV Dinakaran, Sasikala's nephew, was also elected as the AIADMK deputy general secretary at the party meeting. "All developments that took place today are an eyewash", he said, reacting to the decision of the merged party to sack the now jailed Sasikala from the post of General Secretary. Even the Chief Minister EK Palaniswami too has been happy and wanted to strengthen the party.

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By conceding these key demands of the Panneerselvam camp, the process of unification got a fresh impetus and following several rounds of deliberations, the merger came through. Panneerselvam, who is scheduled to leave for Madurai on Friday to attend a meeting there, was expected to elicit the opinion of the faction leaders here to arrive at any firm view on the merger issue.

He was interim chief minister twice when Jayalalithaa stepped down due to cases against her, and then chief minister following her death on December 5, 2016.

However, Panneerselvam cleared the air yesterday, saying a positive result was expected in a day or two.

Panneerselvam had revolted against the leadership of Sasikala in February causing a split in the party.

After drama and speculations of many weeks, finally, it seems AIADMK is united now as OPS and EPS camps announced their merger on Monday. A Tamil television channel reported on Monday that members of the AIADMK faction met the RSS member on Monday morning just hours before the merger was formally announced.

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