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EPS Set to be CM Pick, OPS Settles for Steering Panel as AIADMK Strives to Douse Internal Fire

File photo of Tamil Nadu CM E Palaniswami (left) and deputy O Panneerselvam.

File photo of Tamil Nadu CM E Palaniswami (left) and deputy O Panneerselvam.

Rival factions led by O Panneerselvam and Edappadi Palaniswami are neck-deep in parleys to sort out issues relating to who the chief ministerial candidate should be, and why the party shouldn't heed any overtures from VK Sasikala.

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Poornima Murali

Hectic parleys were underway in the rival factions within the AIADMK on Tuesday just one day ahead of the announcement of the chief ministerial candidate for the upcoming state elections in 2021, with speculation running wild that O Panneerselvam may have to accept being the party leader while Edappadi Palaniswami gets projected as the CM candidate.

Senior AIADMK ministers, including KA Sengottaiyan, Kadambur Raju and D Jayakumar, held discussions with Palaniswami at his residence while Panneerselvam’s loyalists, including deputy co-ordinator KP Munusamy, Manoj Pandian and former minister Natham Vishwanathan met at OPS’ Chennai residence.

In what seemed a symbol of the strife within, AIADMK ministers shuttled between the residences of both chiefs, trying hard to arrive at a settlement.

Sources from both camps confirm that a decision has been made in connection with the AIADMK’s chief ministerial candidate for the upcoming state assembly elections. Sources privy to the developments say that Palaniswami will be named the CM candidate and that OPS’ demand of an 11-member steering committee will be met in an announcement on October 7.

Deputy CM O Panneerselvam had been playing a tough game over the past month, chiefly regarding his role in the big picture of the AIADMK. Both at the state level, and in dialogue with Centre, it has been Palaniswami who has been calling the shots when it comes to governmental matters.

With the elections round the corner, Panneerselvam, it appears, has made it clear that he deserves to get a wider play in decision-making. Key among the concerns of Panneerselvam has been the choice of the chief ministerial candidate, which the Palaniswami faction has been keen on declaring upfront. Paneerselvam fought off that challenge in the recent Executive Committee meeting in late September.

While it is widely expected that Panneerselvam will not upset the apple cart ahead of elections, it would be clear on Wednesday as to whether the internal wrangles within the AIADMK will continue, or be settled once and for all, said an AIADMK leader wishing to remain anonymous.


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