Chennai: Tamil Nadu deputy chief minister O. Panneerselvam and All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) rebel leader and founder of Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam (AMMK) T.T.V. Dhinakaran have blamed each other for working behind the scene to destabilize the state government.

While Dhinakaran alleged that Panneerselvam had not only met him last year, but had tried to contact him through a “common friend" last month, in an attempt to topple the government led by Edappadi K. Palaniswami.

Though Panneerselvam accepted that the two had met, he has accused Dhinakaran of attempting to “grab control of the party" and eyeing the chief minister’s post.

Other senior leaders of the ruling AIADMK have also jumped into the fray, alleging Dhinakaran was trying to “divide-and-rule".

“I met T.T.V. (Dhinakaran) on 12 July last year due to repeated requests from him through a common friend. My intention was to save the AIADMK party and the government, which was facing trouble back then, and not for any personal gain. But, T.T.V. was keen on becoming the chief minister," claimed Panneerselvam.

However, the “secret meeting" has put Panneerselvam in a spot. From being a loyalist to former chief minister, the late J. Jayalalithaa, to “waging a war" to overthrow V.K. Sasikala from the AIADMK and joining hands with Palaniswami to save the party and the government, Panneerselvam had built a considerable support base. But with the latest allegations, he seems to have lost some ground.

“When the whole point of ‘Dharma Yudham’ was against Sasikala and her family, what was the purpose of meeting Dhinakaran and convincing him for a rapprochement," said a member of AIADMK from Coimbatore district, requesting anonymity.

The development comes at a time, when the verdict on the disqualification of members of legislative assembly (MLAs) is expected within a month, and as the state prepares for byelections in Tiruvarur and Thiruparankundram constituencies.

There is already a sense of resentment among those who supported Panneerselvam during the faction war. They feel that they were denied “some decent posts" within the party and the government, said the AIADMK member.

Following Jayalalithaa’s demise in December 2016, Panneerselvam headed the government. Two months later, he resigned from his post, accused Sasikala and her nephew Dhinakaran and their entire family, for attempting to usurp power and led a “Dharma Yudham" against them.

The AIADMK was split into two factions and Palaniswami was made the chief minister. In August 2017, Palaniswami and Panneerselvam came together to merge the factions, while keeping aside jailed leaders Sasikala and Dhinakaran.

Last year, speaker P. Dhanapal had disqualified 18 legislators from AIADMK after they had showed allegiance to Dhinakaran and dissented against the chief minister. The MLAs had subsequently approached the Madras High Court challenging the disqualification.

Chief Election Commissioner O.P. Rawat said on Saturday that Tamil Nadu chief secretary Girija Vaidyanathan has requested the poll panel to delay the bypolls following the “above normal" rainfall forecast for the northeast monsoon.

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