Palaniswami faction clearing the path for unifying AIADMK?
Chennai: Tamil Nadu chief minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami on Thursday led senior leaders of the ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) to oppose the appointment of T.T.V. Dhinakaran as deputy general secretary, a move that seemingly put the party’s rival factions on a merger path.
There is mounting speculation over a likely merger of the two factions of the AIADMK—one led by Palaniswami and other by former chief minister O. Panneerselvam.
Dhinakaran dug in his heels, saying, “Palaniswami can’t remove me. The general secretary Sasikala appointed me as the (party’s) deputy general secretary and only she has the power to remove me.”
But Panneerselvam told reporters, “They (Palaniswami faction) have just fulfilled half of our demands, let the rest also be fulfilled.” He was on his way to New Delhi to attend the swearing-in of Venkaiah Naidu as vice-president, an event that will also be attended by Palaniswami.
“We might get a clearer picture after the Delhi visit,” said a senior member from the Panneerselvam camp requesting anonymity.
A resolution signed by 27 office-bearers of the AIADMK on Thursday ruled Dhinakaran’s recent move to appoint new office-bearers as invalid, and added that the appointment of Dhinakaran as deputy general secretary was not acceptable. He had been expelled from the party by former chief minister the late J. Jayalalithaa in 2011.
The resolution made no mention of Dhinakaran’s jailed aunt and party general secretary V.K. Sasikala, whose removal is a key condition for the merger laid down by the Panneerselvam faction.
“Before the talks on merger we demand probe into Amma’s (Jayalalithaa’s) death and want Sasikala and her family members removed from party,” said K.P. Mumnusamy from the Panneerselvam camp.
However, the Election Commission (EC) in a reply to an RTI (Right to Information) application from the Panneerselvam camp, has clarified that the Commission is yet to accept Sasikala as general secretary of the party.
“After the demise of J. Jayalalithaa a communication was received from V.K. Sasikala stating that she was nominated as the general secretary of the party. However, the acceptance regarding her nomination as general secretary is still pending as there has been a dispute in the party. The final decision in this regard is yet to be taken,” said the Commission.
Dhinakaran, who was appointed by Sasikala as her deputy following her conviction in a disproportionate assets case, was sidelined by the party in April.
He went into self-imposed exile after being named as a suspect for allegedly trying to bribe EC officials. Granted bail in June, Dhinakaran emerged last week to announce a state-wide tour and name new office bearers.