The AIADMK split after Panneerselvam -- who was appointed chief minister after Jayalalithaa's death -- alleged that he was forced to step down by Sasikala. Photograph: (Twitter)
The Panneerselvam camp has made Sasikala and Dinakaran's removal from the party a pre-condition for the merger
Tamil Nadu's ruling AIADMK (Amma) is reportedly set to unite with its splinter group -- the O Panneerselvam-led AIADMK (Puratchithalaivi Amma) -- it emerged from a late night meeting between the camps on Monday.
The AIADMK (Amma) also wants its chief Sasikala, currently in jail, and her nephew, deputy general secretary Dinakaran to quit all party posts because of the various corruption charges against him.
Dinakaran faces arrest for bribing Election Commission officials to obtain the party’s "two leaves" symbol, currently frozen by the poll body.
O Panneerselvam, who briefly held the position of chief minister after Jayalalithaa's death in December last year, has made Sasikala and Dinakaran's removal from the party a pre-condition for the merger. He says the party should not be controlled by one family and it was nothing short of treason to allow Sasikala to control party affairs.
"Dinakaran was not even member of the party till Amma's demise. Judicial probe in to Jayalalitha's death is our first demand. Sasikala's appointment as general secretary is illegal and we will not accept it. Family politics will not be accepted. Dinakaran is only tarnishing the image of the party and it will not be tolerated," he said.
Panneerselvam said he has sent a petition to the Election Commission to declare Sasikala's appointment as general secretary as illegal.
"During the election campaigning in RK Nagar many malpractices were done and Rs 4000 were offered to each voter. We have submitted all this to the Election Commission yesterday and asked to inquire into the matter," Panneerselvam said.
Panneerselvam said the AIADMK (Amma) has formed a committee to conduct talks on merger.
Sellur Raju, a minister who is a part of the negotiating team, told ANI that a team of senior ministers has been formed for the merger of the two factions.
"Yesterday OPS (Panneerselvam) said there are possibilities that we (both AIADMK factions) could sit together and talk to iron out the differences, the minister said.
"The core issue with both of us remains symbol of "two leaves". In order to retrieve the symbol both factions must work unitedly," Sellur Raju added.
Dinakaran may resign tomorrow after meeting Sasikala, who is currently in a Bengaluru jail after being found guilty in a disproportionate assets case, media reports claimed.
The ruling faction is reportedly uncertain about the way forward -- its leaders held two separate meetings on Monday to discuss the crisis. Leaders from the first group described Paneerselvam and chief minister Palaniswami. The AIADMK split after Panneerselvam -- who was appointed chief minister after Jayalalithaa's death -- alleged that he was forced to step down by Sasikala as “brothers” and welcomed the option of a merger between the two factions.
Tamil Nadu finance minister D Jayakumar said after the meeting that all 123 AIADMK lawmakers and party cadres were on the same page and had discussed the possibilities of retaining the "two leaves" symbol.
"We discussed about keeping the party united. O Panneerselvam gave an opinion which we welcome. We discussed about how we can take the party forward in a united way," Jayakumar said.
"Having welcomed his opinion, we will further hold discussions and deliberate about the merger," he added.
Jayakumar also said that an affidavit would be given to the Election Commission to claim the AIADMK's symbol.
"This is like a fight between brothers. We will unite and retrieve the "two leaves" symbol together," senior AIADMK leader Velumani said.
Asked if Sasikala would quit from the party in case the merger took place, Jayakumar said, "We have no information regarding this."
Jayakumar further said the talks about the merger would take shape once party's deputy general secretary and Sasikala's nephew Dinakaran arrives in Chennai.
Dinakaran has denied the charges of bribery through alleged middleman, Sukesh Chandrasekhar, who was arrested in the national capital Sunday, allegedly with Rs 1.3 crores cash.
An FIR was filed against Dinakaran by the Delhi Police on Monday. A Delhi Police team, which was expected to meet him in Chennai, has postponed the visit, stating that the probe in the capital needs to be completed first.
The AIADMK underwent major political changes after Panneerselvam -- who was appointed chief minister after Jayalalithaa's death -- alleged that he was forced to step down by Sasikala.
Sasikala, however, suffered a major jolt when the Karnataka High Court held her guilty in a 19-year-old disproportionate assets case and ordered her to finish the remaining jail-term of four years. After her arrest, Dinakaran was made the party's deputy general secretary and E Palaniswamy the chief minister.
Dinakaran was the ruling faction's candidate for a by-poll in Jayalalithaa's constituency RK Nagar in Chennai which was cancelled by the Election Commission following allegations of bribing of voters.
The Dinakaran faction had contested the by-election on the "hat" symbol after the Election Commission froze the "two leaves" symbol while acknowledging the split in the party.
A unification of the warring factions can augur well for the AIADMK and the state politics especially considering the fate the recently-held RK Nagar by-polls met with.
The merger may, however, prove to be a deterrent in Sasikala's intended future in the Tamil Nadu politics.
(WION with inputs from ANI)