AIADMK factions seal merger deal, OPS set to return as CM: report

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According to the merger deal, EK Palaniswami will take charge as party’s general secretary.

Chennai: The two factions of the AIADMK have reportedly finalised the merger deal, with O Panneerselvam returning as the chief minister of Tamil Nadu. The current Chief Minister EK Palaniswami will replace VK Sasikala as party’s general secretary.

According to a report in The Indian Express, the ruling AIADMK faction sealed the deal due to “vulnerable state of the government”. The merger is likely to be announced on Monday.

“The merger deal has been sealed and formal talks will begin now between the senior leaders of both factions to finalise and announce the decision. Palaniswami will step down for Panneerselvam, and become the party chief. Health Minister C Vijayabaskar, whose properties were raided by Income Tax officials, may be dropped from the cabinet. Former minister and MLA Senthil Balaji may be inducted along with one or two more faces from southern Tamil Nadu,” a senior AIADMK leader told the newspaper.

Meanwhile, other leaders in the ruling faction have started to distance themselves from Sasikala and her nephew TTV Dinakaran.

The talks for the merger of the two factions began after Dhinakaran was booked for allegedly offering bribe to an Election Commission official in an attempt to get the party’s poll symbol of ‘two leaves’ in a by-election to the R K Nagar Assembly seat in Tamil Nadu.

Both the factions of the AIADMK had on Friday formed committees to discuss the merger.

Panneerselvam’s panel, headed by former AIADMK minister KP Munuswamy, includes senior leaders Mafoi Pandiarajan and V Maitreyan.

Palanisamy has formed a seven-member committee, which will be headed by Rajya Sabha MP R Vaithiyalingam, and includes ministers C Sreenivasan, KA Sengottaiyan and D Jayakumar among others.

Hardening its stance for merger talks, the Panneerselvam camp had on Thursday demanded that the faction led by Palanisamy formally expel Sasikala and Dhinakaran, besides about 30 other members of their family from the party.

Following the cabinet’s revolt against him early this week, Dhinakaran had said he was “stepping aside” in the interest of the party.

A top leader in the Panneerselvam camp, KP Munusamy, had on Thursday said the first demand was getting the resignation of Sasikala and Dinakaran and later their formal expulsion.

The Panneerselvam camp has also sought a CBI probe into the circumstances leading to former chief minister Jayalalithaa’s death on December 5 last year.

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