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Thursday 2 July 2020

EPS concedes ground to OPS as ADMK factions merge

Chennai: The headquarters of the ruling Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (ADMK) on Lloyds Road witnessed some historic moments this afternoon when the former Chief Minister and J Jayalalithaa confidante O Panneerselvam returned to the parent organisation. He had walked out of the party in February when he was unseated as the chief minister by Sasikala.

The other faction led by Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami finally agreed to the 2 major conditions put forth by the Panneerselvam faction: (a) that an inquiry be instituted into Jayalalithaa’s death and (b) Sasikala and her family members be kept away from the party and the government.

Pannerselvam has been accommodated in the State government as the deputy chief minister. The finance portfolio he held under Jayalalithaa has been given back to him apart from a few more departments.Ma Foi K Pandiarajan, who was also a minister in the Jayalalithaa Cabinet and had gone with the Panneerselvam camp, has also been made a minister again.

Ma Foi K Pandiarajan, who was also a minister in the Jayalalithaa Cabinet and had gone with the Panneerselvam camp, has also been made a minister again.Besides these changes, the CM has advised the Governor of a few minor changes in the portfolios of some ministers.

Besides these changes, the CM has advised Governor C Vidyasagar Rao a few minor changes in the portfolios of some ministers.

Within the organisation of ADMK, the leaders are trying to tread cautiously, lest they should earn the wrath of the party cadre. In the last set of resolutions, where it was declared that TTV Dinakaran was not eligible to be appointed as the deputy general secretary, it was also declared that no one in the party could be accepted as the replacement for Jayalalithaa.

Under the new arrangement announced today, there are 4 leaders at the top. Pannerselvam is the coordinator or chairman of a steering committee and Palaniswami will be the co-chairman of this committee. There will be 2 deputy coordinators, KP Munusami and Vaidyalingam. Then there will be an 11-member apex advisory council; the names of these members have not been made public.

In another resolution, the act of drafting which delayed the merger process, it has been decided that a special meeting of the party’s general council be called and steps taken to remove or annul the nomination of VK Sasikala as the party’s general secretary. It was this council that had nominated Sasikala as the GS as an interim arrangement till the occupant of the post was formally elected in accordance with the party’s constitution. This might prove to be quite a task unless they are able to overcome the challenges from TTV Dinakaran and the other members of the extended Sashikala family which still wields a lot of influence within the party.

The other major challenge for the party’s new office bearers will be to persuade the Election Commission (EC) to re-assign to the party its 2-leaves symbol. Several affidavits had been filed with the Commission from both the factions before today’s merger. The EC must also decide whether the nomination of Sasikala was in violation of the party’s constitution.

Palaniswami and Pannerselvam can now parade their MLAs and MPs in front of the EC and hope that the commission will do what it did in the case of the feud between Akhilesh Yadav and Mulayam Singh Yadav: recognize the real party and restore its symbol. In such an eventuality, the 20-odd MLAs sticking to Dinakaran might realise they are on the losing side and desert him and join the main party.

The die is not cast until the DMK decides to bring a no-confidence motion in the Assembly or leaves the now merged ADMK unchallenged.

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