After months of split in the AIADMK, two factions of the party, each led by Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami and his predecessor O Panneerselvam, are on the final stages of talks of unification under a single banner. Panneerselvam on Sunday said the talks on merger of two factions have moved a step forward and a "good" decision would be reached shortly.
Party sources indicated that there may be a meeting at the AIADMK headquarters today where decisions could be made by the Palaniswami camp on the question of the "formal expulsion" of V K Sasikala. Removal of jailed party chief Sasikala and his nephew TTV Dhinakaran was one of the many pre-conditions put forth by the OPS faction. In a resolution on August 10, the chief minister's camp had already delegitimised Deputy general Secretary and Sasikala's nephew TTV Dhinakaran setting the stage for a merger.
There are also reports that as part of the deal, Panneerselvam will be given the post of deputy chief minister in the government led by Palaniswami.
Sources said the two factions could announce the merger after the AIADMK meeting. The day is considered auspicious in the wake of it being 'Amavasya'.
“Soon the talks of the merger will be over and everyone will get the good news. We can't say until then,” Panneerselvam said on Sunday. OPS added that no member of the Sasikala family will not be a part of the party after the merger.
"I had informed that the merger talks are already progressing smoothly. It has progressed one more step...A good decision will be attained shortly as desired by you," Panneerselvam told reporters after a meeting with his party functionaries.
"Our lofty goal in effecting the merger will be to see that the party does not get entangled in the clutches of a family," he said, apparently targeting Sasikala and Dhinakaran.
The rebel leader further said that "our goal will succeed" and that "this party will be of the cadres, and it will be safeguarded."
Yesterday, Panneerselvam had said that talks on the merger were going on smoothly and a positive result was expected in a "day or two".
Palaniswami too had said he was confident that "both the factions would merge soon".
The merger talks gained momentum after Palaniswami on August 17 announced that a inquiry commission would be set up to probe the death of late Chief Minister Jayalalithaa and her Poes Garden residence would be converted into a memorial, two of the key demands put forth by the Panneerselvam camp.
Though the merger was expected to materialise on Friday night, it did not come through amid reported divergent views among members of the Panneerselvam faction.
However, Panneerselvam cleared the air yesterday, saying a positive result was expected in a day or two.
Panneerselvam, a former Chief Minister, had revolted against the leadership of jailed party chief V K Sasikala in February last, causing a split in the party.
Dhinakaran holds discussions with supporters
Meanwhile, party deputy general secretary Dhinakaran held discussions with his supporters in Chennai on Sunday in the backdrop of expectations that the merger may fructify on Monday. Emerging from the meeting, Dhinakaran's confidant Nanjil Sampath hit out at Panneerselvam for enacting a "drama" of talks with the Palaniswami camp.
"Whatever decision they (camps led by Palaniswami and Panneerselvam) take, Dhinakaran has the ability to put a full stop to it and we will prove it in the coming days," he said.
(With PTI inputs)