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AIADMK Merger Put on Hold Again After Flip-Flops by EPS, OPS Camps

Sources told News18 that the roadblock in the merger talks was caused because of a last minute demand from O Panneerselvam, who wanted to have the final say in party affairs.

News18.com

Updated:August 18, 2017, 11:00 PM IST
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AIADMK Merger Put on Hold Again After Flip-Flops by EPS, OPS Camps
File photo of O Panneerselvam (left) and EK Palaniswami. (PTI)
Chennai: J Jayalalithaa’s memorial at Marina Beach was decked up for a formal announcement of the merger of the two rival factions of AIADMK on Friday, but was left deserted at the end of the day as the EPS and OPS camps failed to arrive at a consensus after engaging in hectic negotiations all through the evening.

Sources told News18 that the roadblock in the merger talks was caused because of a last minute demand from O Panneerselvam, who wanted to have the final say in party affairs in case of a disagreement. Chief Minister EK Palanisami, who has the support of 122 MLAs against OPS’s 10, was not ready to cede to the demand.

Another hiccup in the patch-up was that three MLAs in OPS camp refused to back the merger during the talks, saying that everything they have stood for till now would be compromised and they will lose credibility. Sources said that Panneerselvam will not go ahead with the merger till all his supporters are on board.

The press meet scheduled for a joint statement was cancelled but the talks are likely to continue, with both sides still keen on joining hands.

According to sources, EPS had offered OPS the post of deputy CM of Tamil Nadu, while he will continue to head the government. OPS would also be made the head a seven-member committee that will run the party till the election of the next general secretary.

The two groups had entered into discussions on Friday morning to chalk out the future course of action, a day after the Tamil Nadu government had accepted the two demands laid down by Panneerselvam for the merger.

The government had announced a probe by a retired High Court judge into the death of the late Chief Minister, J Jayalalithaa, over which suspicions were raised by the rebel camp. Palaniswami also announced that the late AIADMK supremo’s Poes Garden residence will be turned into a memorial.

The formal expulsion of jailed party general secretary VK Sasikala and her kin, including deputy general secretary TTV Dinakaran, from the AIADMK was the other major demand.

Dinakaran remains the wildcard in the political puzzle of Tamil Nadu. He had claimed the support of 20 MLAs, but he too received a setback on Friday, as only three legislators turned up for a rally that was projected as a show of strength by the Sasikala camp.

Supporters of Dhinakaran also held consultations at a city hotel even as he met his aunt Sasikala in a Bengaluru prison earlier in the day along with his family. The supporters also held functions to celebrate the Sasikala's birthday on Friday by disbursing welfare assistance.

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