AIADMK merger: O. Panneerselvam wants proof of Sasikala, Dinakaran ouster

"He is the Chancellor of the Fisheries University and by the virtue of being a fisheries minister I am the Pro-Chancellor".

Commenting on leaders of present dispensation remarking about CM's post, he said they never demanded it and isn't the issue.

Chennai: The merger talks between the two factions of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra (AIADMK) suffered a setback on Thursday with former chief minister O. Panneerselvam's camp setting stiff preconditions to begin discussions.

"Our struggle was only to keep Sasikala's influence away from the AIADMK", he says, adding that he does not want to be the reason behind the split in the party.

AIADMK sources said that the decision to "keep out" Sasikala and Dinakaran was taken during a meeting held at the residence of Chief Minister E.K. Palaniswami, and attended by 12 Ministers, six MLAs and two MPs. "Sasikala's appointment as the general secretary is illegal and we will not accept it. Family politics will not be accepted", he asserted.

Some AIADMK MLAs have rallied around Dinakaran.

Realising that the game was up, Dinakaran made a decision to gracefully quit instead of going for a showdown.

Amid moves to sideline him, Mr Dinakaran rushed back from Bengaluru without meeting his aunt as he had intended and called a meeting of legislators at the AIADMK headquarters in Chennai.

The latest demands come over suspicions that Sasikala and Dhinakaran's "ouster" from the party was staged by the other faction.

Panneerselvam's rival group is far smaller, but includes senior leaders who disagreed with Sasikala and family being given charge of the party. Before going to serve time in Bengaluru jail, she appointed her nephew TTV Dinakaran as her deputy, another created post. She kept the rank of party chief for herself. He splurged money in the constituency and even deployed ministers, some of whom got embroiled in the cash-for-vote sam.

Palanisamy later said Panneerselvam's demand is not something new, adding this has been their position from day one. From then on, his slide was rapid. "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.

A fraction of Jayalalitha's wealth was on display in the aborted RK Nagar byelection to the Tamil Nadu Assembly where EC officials detected disbursal of Rs 89 crore for votes by TTV Dinakaran, the Sasikala faction candidate who is her nephew and deputy general secretary of the party, and it turned out to be his and his party's undoing. "I will discuss the issue with her".

However, the merger won't be easy.

Panneerselvam had on Wednesday demanded a CBI probe against Sasikala, following allegations from several people, including AIADMK veterans, that she had poisoned Jayalalithaa. Panneerselvam broke ranks with Sasikala in February, alleging he was forced to resign. This rule had been observed by the Supreme Court in a number of civil appeals.

The EPS (E Palaniswamy) faction is reportedly keen on a merger with the OPS (Panneerselvam) faction.

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