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AIADMK: Panneerselvam faction hardens stance for merger talks

AIADMK: Panneerselvam faction hardens stance for merger talks
Hardening its stance for merger talks, the Panneerselvam camp on Thursday demanded that the faction led by Chief Minister K Palaniswami formally expel AIADMK general secretary V K Sasikala and T T V Dhinakaran besides about 30 other members of their family from the party.

Talks for merger between the two factions appeared to have hit a roadblock with the former chief minister Panneerselvam's camp laying down conditions including a CBI probe into the the circumstances leading to Jayalalithaa's death.

A top leader of the former Chief Minister's camp, K P Munusamy said the first demand was getting Sasikala and Dhinakaran's resignation and later their formal expulsion along with 30 other members of their family.

Panneerselvam also wanted withdrawal of affidavits submitted to the Election Commission declaring Sasikala and Dhinakaran as party general secretary and deputy general secretary, respectively.

He also wanted the state government to recommend a CBI probe to go into the circumstances that led to Jayalalithaa's death in December last year.

Only if such conditions are met, can there be a scope for talks to pave the way for merger, Munusamy said.

On the aunt-nephew duo being ousted (by Palaniswami camp) on April 18 after a meeting of senior ministers, a key demand of Panneerselvam, Munusamy, however, suspected "foul play" behind it.

"Only your (Palaniswami camp) conscience knows how you did that," he said.

Further he said, "Only you (Palaniswami camp) know the reason, (for sidelining Dhinakaran.)

"We are getting information that since he (Dhinakaran) was entangled in several cases, in order to free him, Sasikala's family has used them (Palaniswami camp)," he claimed.

Stating that only under such circumstances Dhinakaran has been kept away, Munusamy said in keeping with AIADMK party practice, a party notification should be issued on Dhinakaran and Sasikala family's expulsion.

Cadres should be asked to have no truck with them, he said and added that only if this was done, they would regard it as a full victory.

In an indication that patch-up could be a herculean task, he said only Panneerselvam had the support of people and cadres and the rival camp was "afraid" that the majority of MLAs only favoured Panneerselvam for the Chief Minister's post.

He also dubbed Chief Minister Palaniswami as a nominee of jailed leader Sasikala.

AIADMK Rajya Sabha MP R Vaithilingam of the Palaniswami camp rejected Munusamy's allegation on the events leading to Dhinakaran's ouster.

"There is no drama. We compelled him (Dhinakaran) to step aside and he did it happily," Vaithilingam said.

Hitting out at senior leader M Thambidurai who had said Palaniswami would continue as Chief Minister, Munusamy said they had not demanded the posts of either the Chief Minister or the party general secretary.

He alleged that the Lok Sabha Deputy Speaker was making such comments to stay relevant.

He also hit out Finance Minister D Jayakumar for making "immature," statements on the merger issue.

Responding to Munusamy, Vaithilingam said they had not put forth any conditions for talks,adding, they would "happily" sit for negotiations considering party's welfare.

"Respecting the sentiments of 1.5 crore party workers, to redeem the lost 'Two Leaves' party symbol and give good governance for the rest of four and a half years, we will take all (required) steps," he said.

He added that the Palaniswami camp had not set any pre-conditions for talks and that the camp was "happy to sit for discussions."

Law Minister C Ve Shanmugam said the party's welfare must be the priority and not "someone's personal whims and fancies."

Thambidurai, Jayakumar meet Guv... separately

Senior AIADMK leaders M Thambidurai and D Jayakumar on Thursday separately called on Tamil Nadu Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao, but insisted their meetings were not political.

Thambidurai, also the Deputy Speaker of Lok Sabha, said Rao was his "friend" and described the meeting as a "courtesy call," while Finance Minister Jayakumar, who also holds Fisheries portfolio, discussed the issue of Vice-Chancellor's appointment to the Tamil Nadu Fisheries University. "There is no political significance in the meeting. We did not speak politics at all," Thambidurai said when asked if he 'apprised' the Governor of the ongoing rumblings in the ruling AIADMK.

Thambidurai said Rao has been his friend since the former was a minister in the AB Vajpayee cabinet in 1998-99.

"It was a courtesy call," Thambidurai said, adding, he used to meet Rao, also Governor of Maharashtra, whenever he visited Mumbai.

Thambidurai's meeting with the Governor assumes significance as it came in the wake of changing dynamics in the ruling AIADMK where ministers in the V K Sasikala faction had revolted against their leader TTV Dhinakaran, deciding to keep his family away from the party. They had also initiated the modalities of merging their faction headed by Chief Minister K Palaniswami with the other led by former Chief Minister O Pannerselvam.
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