Virtually paving the way for a merger between the two warring factions of the AIADMK, the party on Tuesday announced that AIADMK (Amma) General Secretary V K Sasikala, her nephew and deputy general secretary TTV Dhinakaran and his family will be kept away from the party affairs as well as from the Tamil Nadu government.
The decision was taken by the cabinet of Chief Minister E K Palaniswami.
Emerging from a "consultative" meeting chaired by the Chief Minister, Finance Minister D Jayakumar declared that the "unanimous" decision was taken in tune with the aspirations of the party cadres and people.
Among the demands put by the faction led by former Chief Minister O Panneerselvam was that Sasikala and Dhinakaran must be kept away from the party.
Jayakumar said a panel will be formed for day-to-day functioning of the AIADMK.
"A decision has been taken to fully keep away Dhinakaran and his family from the party and the government," he told reporters tonight.
He claimed it was the desire of all party cadres, top functionaries, district secretaries, MPs, MLAs, and the Ministers.
Dhinakaran, who was expelled from the AIADMK by Jayalalithaa, was reinducted by Sasikala and appointed the party's deputy general secretary just before she proceeded to Bengaluru to serve the remnant of her jail term after the Supreme Court upheld her conviction and sentence in a disproprtionate assets case in February this year.
Replying to a question, Jayakumar, however, said the decision was not linked to the demand of rebel leader O Panneerselvam that party general secretary V K Sasikala and her nephew Dhinakaran be kept away as a pre-condition for talks for merger of the rival factions.
Jayakumar, flanked by several Ministers, said still they were prepared to hold talks with Panneerselvam.
Senior Ministers including Dindigul C Srinivasan, S P Velumani, RB Udayakumar, Thangamani, C Ve Shanmugam Rajya Sabha MP V Vaithilingam were present.
The sudden announcement by Jayakumar came after efforts for the merger hit a hurdle with Panneerselvam insisting on his demand for the ouster of Sasikala, Dhinakaran and their family from the party and the government.
Earlier today, efforts for a patch-up between the factions hit a hurdle with Panneerselvam making talks conditional to the ouster of party Sasikala and Dhinakaran.
Panneerselvam made it clear that his group's "basic principle" of keeping the party and the government free from the "clutches" of a single family cannot be compromised.
He also remained firm on the demand for a probe on the circumstances leading to the death of late Chief Minister Jayalalithaa in December last year.
His assertion came after last night's confabulations, including the one attended by several senior Tamil Nadu ministers, after which they had appeared inclined to end the face-off with the Panneerselvam camp.
Earlier in the day, the ruling (Amma) faction announced constitution of a team to hold talks with rival Panneerselvam camp for a possible patch-up.
Senior leader in the V K Sasikala faction and Cooperation Minister Sellur K Raju said Chief Minister K Palaniswami has constituted a team of "senior ministers" for the purpose.
Since there was a "split between siblings," it would not be fair on the part of either side to put terms and conditions for the merger talks, Raju said.
An otherwise unassuming Panneerselvam had revolted against AIADMK General Secretary V K Sasikala in February last, alleging he was forced by her to resign as Chief Minister following party supremo J Jayalalithaa's death.
Panneerselvam, a staunch Jayalalithaa loyalist, had filled in for her thrice--twice during her incarceration in corruption cases, and once when she lay on her death bed.
Senior party leader M Thambidurai today said it will be in the party's interest if both factions merge to take forward the legacy of late Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalitha.
Ruling out any change of Chief Minister in the state for this possible patch up, Thambidurai said people from the opposing faction may be included in the organisation.
"I have initiated talks with the Panneerselvam camp. We all want to continue the legacy of late Amma and at the same time want to save the party's symbol of two leaves. So in this largest interest, I think both factions should come together," he said here, adding this is what party workers also want.
Last month, the Election Commission had frozen the 'two leaves' symbol of the AIADMK as part of its interim order.
Both AIADMK factions led by Panneerselvam and Sasikala respectively were asked to come up with new party names as well as party symbols.