Rebel AIADMK camp steadfast on two of its main demands
The rebellion against AIADMK (Amma) faction deputy general secretary T T V Dhinakaran by Chief Minister E K Palaniswami may have heightened the expectations of a merger of the rival factions of the ruling party in Tamil Nadu, but the rebel Puratchi Thalaivi Amma camp on Thursday remained steadfast on two of its main demands.
The O Panneerselvam-led camp said there was no change in its demand for a probe into the death of late chief minister J Jayalalithaa, besides the expulsion of jailed party chief V K Sasikala and her family from the AIADMK, to hold the merger talks.
The assertion came even as a senior leader in the AIADMK (Amma) camp expressed hope of the merger taking place by August 15.
"We are confident. Hope so," was the terse response from Finance Minister D Jayakumar when reporters sought his reaction on reports that the merger could happen by August 15.
His statement came on a day when Palaniswami and others in his camp questioned the authority of Sasikala and Dhinakaran in the party's writ, a move seen as having opened up the possibilities of a merger of the two AIADMK factions.
But, the rival Puratchi Thalaivi (Amma) camp said there was no change in its earlier demands.
"As we had announced earlier, the first demand is a probe into Amma's (Jayalalithaa's) death, while the other is the expulsion of Sasikala and her family from the party. We had already said that the (prospects of a) merger will be discussed only if these demands are met," key Panneerselvam aide K P Munusamy said.
"There is no change in our original demands," the former Tamil Nadu minister told reporters.
The rival faction rebelling against Dhinakaran, "who is not acceptable to us", would be the first possible step towards the merger talks, he said, when asked if today's developments could be viewed as a precursor to the merger.
"Wait and watch our activities if they expel (Sasikala and all of her family)," he said.
The Amma faction joining hands against Dhinakaran was an "awakening", Munusamy said, adding that the camp had earlier accepted him as its deputy general secretary.
"They have woken up only now. This awakening should not only be confined to Dhinakaran and we will laud them if it extends to Sasikala's family as well," he said.
Asked about reports of a compromise formula, under which the deputy chief minister's post would be offered to Panneerselvam as part of the unification process, Munusamy said it was a "speculation" and that only the media was making such claims.
"He (Panneerselvam) is a leader struggling to protect the people and the party and he cannot be lured by such offers of posts," he said.