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Panneerselvam’s state-wide tour and the question mark over AIADMK merger

LiveMint logoLiveMint 02-05-2017 Dharani Thangavelu

Chennai: Former Tamil Nadu chief minister O. Panneerselvam will begin a state-wide tour on Friday to meet supporters amid a stalemate in efforts to arrange a merger of rival factions in the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK).

K.P. Munusamy, a senior leader from the Panneerselvam faction, known as the AIADMK (Puratchi Thalaivi Amma), denied any link between the merger efforts and the tour. But it is seen by political observers as an attempt to showcase the perceived public support enjoyed by the former CM, who was a close associate of late former CM J. Jayalalithaa.

Though both factions formed a seven-member team to initiate merger discussions, negotiations have failed to start because of differences between the leaders of the two factions.

“We are very clear. If they—AIADMK (Amma), under CM Edappadi K. Palaniswami—do not agree to our demands, we will walk out of the merger talks and will go ahead to meet the people. Everyone knows that it is we who have the support of the cadres and the public,” a senior member from the Panneerselvam camp said in an earlier interview.

The Panneerselvam camp had insisted that merger talks could begin only after their demands—a formal ouster of V.K. Sasikala, her nephew T.T.V. Dinakaran and other family members from the party and a CBI probe into the death of former chief minister J. Jayalalithaa—are met. But, the chief minister’s post has remained a contentious issue.

ALSO READ: AIADMK merger looks nowhere in sight; police continue to question Dinakaran

Panneerselvam’s tour from 5-31 May may even widen the split in the ruling party, observers said.

“Though both the factions keep repeating that recovering the AIADMK’s ‘two leaves’ symbol is the priority, I don’t find them making any attempts,” said a DMK leader.

The Election Commission froze the ‘two leaves’ symbol of the AIADMK ahead of the 12 April R.K. Nagar bypoll, necessitated due to former chief minister Jayalalithaa’s death. A fresh date is yet to be announced by the EC for the by-election, which was cancelled over cash for votes allegations.

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