AIADMK factions merge, OPS sworn in as TN deputy CM
Chennai: After months of hectic parleys and several false starts, Tamil Nadu's ruling AIADMK party on Monday finally announced a merger with Chief Minister E Palaniswami or EPS, and his rival O Panneerselvam or OPS shaking hands and also visiting together the beachside memorial of J Jayalalithaa, where OPS started his rebellion. The AIADMK has agreed to expel VK Sasikala, the jailed party chief. "The burden in my heart is gone. No one can separate us, we are children of Amma (Jayalalithaa), and we are brothers," Panneerselvam said.
Later former Tamil Nadu chief minister O Panneerslevam was sworn-in as deputy to current incumbent K Palaniswami, hours after the merger of the two AIADMK factions.
At a simple ceremony at the Raj Bhavan, Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao administered the oath of office and secrecy to Panneerselvam.
The former chief minister is back in his home turf finance, a portfolio he had held since 2011 when the J Jayalalithaa government was sworn-in.
Palaniswami arrived first at the party office on Monday.
Panneerselvam came a bit later, his first visit after almost seven months. Both were given a rousing reception by party cadres who swarmed the party headquarters and lined up along the road leading to the premises.
The factional feud began in February after Panneerselvam revolted against Sasikala. The former chief minister had said that he was forced to resign from his post and asserted that only a person desired by people and cadres should succeed him in the government and party.
Panneerselvam was immediately sacked from the top party post of treasurer, marking the birth of the rebel AIADMK (Puratchi Thalaivi Amma) faction.
Subsequently, Sasikala named Palaniswami as Legislature Party Leader as she herself had to go to Bengaluru to serve a prison sentence following her conviction in the disproportionate assets case.
Soon, Palaniswami took over as chief minister and his government was ridiculed as a proxy of Sasikala by rebel Panneerselvam and opposition parties led by the DMK.
In April this year, in a political twist, Tamil Nadu Cabinet gave indications of sidelining Sasikala and Dhinakaran. Palaniswami gradually emerged as the leader of a faction of about 122 MLAs in the 234 member assembly.
The OPS camp had nine MLAs, including himself.
Palaniswami and his Cabinet colleagues took a stand against Dhinakaran in April for the first time after the bypoll to RK Nagar bypoll constituency, represented by late Jayalalithaa, was cancelled.
They were also on the same page after Dhinarakan was named in a case of trying to bribe Election Commission officials during April
Further hardening the stand against Dhinakaran, an August 10 meeting chaired by Palaniswami said his appointment went against party bye-laws, setting the stage for a formal merger.
Following it up, the government also announced an inquiry into Jayalalithaa's death and declared that Amma's Poes Garden residence would be taken over and turned into a memorial.
By conceding these key demands of the Panneerselvam camp, the process of unification got a fresh impetus and following several rounds of deliberations, the merger came through.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday assured all possible support to the E K Palaniswami government of Tamil Nadu in which O Panneerselvam was inducted as Deputy Chief Minister.
Soon after the swearing-in, Modi congratulated Panneerselvam and others who took the oath.
"I congratulate Thiru O Panneerselvam & others who took oath today. I hope Tamil Nadu scales newer heights of progress in the years to come," the prime minister tweeted.
The MLAs supporting Dhinakaran announced that they will meet Tamil Nadu Governor on Tuesday at 10 am.