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.
Dhinkaran camp hits back at Palaniswami; calls him 'traitor'
The TTV Dhinkaran camp in AIADMK on Thursday hit out at Chief Minister K Palaniswami for questioning the authority of the Deputy General Secretary, terming it as a "betrayal" and warned him of a backlash.
Two senior leaders of the Dhinakaran camp also called Palaniswami a "traitor".
AIAMDK's Karnataka unit secretary and Dhinakaran loyalist V Pugazhenthi termed as a "drama", the AIADMK Amma faction led by Palaniswami questioning the authority of Dhinakaran, besides that of jailed party chief V K Sasikala.
"These decisions are not binding on us. Party supporters will not accept this. They have poked their eyes with their own fingers," he told reporters.
"We are holding consultations with our Deputy General Secretary (Dhinakaran). Anything can happen. This is the peak of betrayal where Palaniswami has ventured into," he said.
Such decisions cannot be taken by a few office-bearers, as was done today, but is a larger exercise with a number of them required to take decisions, Pugazhenthi said.
He vowed "to teach a lesson to traitors."
The leader also alleged the possibility of role of former chief minister and rebel faction chief O Panneerselvam in today's developments.
"There could be behind the screens agreement with Panneerselvam," he alleged.
Another Dhinakaran loyalist, Nanchil Sampath, said the Chief Minister-led camp had come out with a "unilateral announcement" questioning the former's authority.
"By doing such a thing, Panneerslevam has got an important place in the list of traitors. History has seen many traitors and this is another betrayal," he said.
He questioned the Palaniswami camp's reasoning that Dhinakaran's appointment was not valid for the fact that he had not been a member of the party for five years prior to the appointment, since the late Chief Minister and party supremo J Jayalalithaa had expelled him in 2011.
Sampath recalled he had quit the Vaiko-led MDMK in December 2012 and was appointed the party's deputy propaganda secretary that very day by Jayalalithaa then.
"Where were they then. Did these rules expire then?" he asked.