As OPS-EPS Merger Talks Break Down, Four Truckloads of Affidavits Reach EC
New Delhi: Armed with four truckloads of affidavits, Tamil Nadu Law Minister CV Shanmugham reached the Election Commission office on Monday morning to stake claim to the AIADMK’s ‘two-leaf’ symbol as merger talks broke down between the rival party factions.
The 3,10,000 affidavits reportedly contain signatures of party cadre declaring support for Tamil Nadu Chief Minister E Palaniswami, also known as EPS.
“The Election Commission asked us to submit these documents. As many as 123 MLAs are with EPS. These are affidavits of the office bearers,” Shanmugham told CNN-News18.
Shanmugham also termed the statements by Deepa Jayakumar, niece of the late chief minister J Jayalalithaa, as “irresponsible”. Deepa, who has floated a political outfit of her own, had alleged on Sunday that her estranged brother Deepak “plotted Jayalalithaa’s death” with VK Sasikala.
Shanmugham’s visit to the EC headquarters came a day after former chief minister O Panneerselvam, who leads the rival faction, dissolved a seven-member panel set up to hold merger talks Palaniswami.
“We dissolved the committee because the merger failed. We didn’t want to be part of the drama that the EPS camp created. We have the support of the party cadre. We are sure we will get the two-leaves symbol,” Panneerselvam, fondly called OPS, said on Monday.
Last few weeks saw no visible progress in the proposed talks between the panels set up by the respective factions. The OPS panel, called the Puratchi Thalaivi Amma camp, was led by KP Munusamy, while EPS’s AIADMK (Amma) panel was headed by R Vaithilingam.
Though both sides publicly announced their willingness to hold talks, the Panneerselvam faction remained firm on its demand for a CBI probe into the death of Jayalalithaa and the removal of AIADMK chief VK Sasikala and her family members, including Deputy General Secretary TTV Dinakaran, from the party as a precondition for talks.
None of the demands had been met, though a section of ministers revolted against Dinakaran in April, asking him to stay away from party affairs. He had also announced then that he was stepping aside.
However, he had recently, upon release on bail in the Election Commission bribery case, said he would continue with party work.
On Sunday, Panneerselvam took a dig at the Palaniswami camp, saying MLAs were gifted "gold, diamond and cash" during their stay at a resort at Koovathur near here, prior to the February 18 trust vote faced and won by Palaniswami.
Panneerselvam had revolted against Sasikala in February, alleging he was forced to make way for her elevation as chief minister. He later led the breakaway faction of some MPs and MLAs besides senior functionaries.
The faction has since challenged the election of Sasikala as AIADMK general secretary before the Election Commission, while also staking claim for the party's two leaves symbol.
Sasikala is currently lodged in a Bengaluru jail in a disproportionate assets case.
(With PTI inputs)
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