AIADMK crisis: Panneerselvam dissolves panel on merger with Palaniswami faction


Chennai: Former chief minister O. Panneerselvam on Sunday announced the dissolution of the seven-member committee that was formed to hold merger talks with rival faction led by Tamil Nadu CM Edappadi K. Palaniswami, signalling a formal end to the possibility of a merger.

Addressing party functionaries at Thiruvallur district, Panneerselvam claimed the decision was taken with the consent of all the leaders in the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) Amma faction.

“The people of Tamil Nadu do not want such merger initiatives. We have the support of the people and they want us to fight alone,” said Panneerselvam.

The decision also signals that the confusion within AIADMK may get aggravated with the ruling party heading for a three-way split, given that some MLAs are likely to join deputy general secretary T.T.V. Dhinakaran’s camp.

The two factions of the ruling party—AIADMK Puratchi Thalaivi Amma under Panneerselvam and AIADMK Amma under Palaniswami—formed committees in April to initiate merger talks. Though the ouster of AIADMK Amma leader Dhinakaran and V.K. Sasikala from the party was the main demand of the Panneerselvam camp, the chief minister’s post remained a bone of contention.

Formal talks never began and, meanwhile, Dhinakaran was arrested by the Delhi police in relation to the alleged attempt to bribe Election Commission officials to get the AIADMK’s “two leaves” symbol for AIADMK Amma faction in the RK Nagar bypolls that eventually got cancelled.

Though Dhinakaran had earlier said that he would step aside from party affairs, on returning to Chennai last week after he got a bail from a Delhi court, he said he would continue with his party responsibilities.

“I had earlier moved away to facilitate the merger for the party’s well-being. But nothing has happened all these days,” said Dhinakaran.

With more than 30 legislators extending support to Dhinakaran, some were expecting Palaniswami and Panneerselvam to join hands to retrieve the party’s symbol, which the Election Commission froze earlier.

The defection of these legislators can threaten the stability of the Palaniswami government which won the trust vote in February with the backing of 122 MLAs following the withdrawal of 11 legislators from the Panneerselvam faction.