Chennai: In yet another midnight drama in Tamil Nadu politics, the two warring factions of the AIADMK met on Monday to prepare the ground for a possible patch up and kick out 'Chinnamma' V.K. Sasikala and her family members 'to save the party'.
Reportedly, chief minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami, who leads the official faction, was invited by rebel camp headed by O. Panneerselvam to discuss the possibility of a merger.
According to sources, the merger of AIADMK (Amma) and AIADMK (Puratchi Thalaivi Amma) could be officially announced on Tuesday.
Finance minister D. Jayakumar, who briefed media around 11.30 pm, said the two groups met to discuss and deliberate over the possibilities of their unification. Though he refused to divulge details of any possible action against party general secretary Sasikala and her nephew and deputy general secretary T.T.V. Dhinakaran, speculations are rife that both of them will be shown the door.
The high drama unfolded hours after the Crime Branch registered a case against Dhinakaran for allegedly trying to bribe officials of the Election Commission to retain the 'two leaves' symbol.
"We will ensure that the government continues the good work initiated by the late Amma. We all believe the new developments will augur well for the party and the government," said Jayakumar, a close confidante of chief minister Palaniswami.
He hoped that the unified party would be allotted the official 'two leaves' symbol in the upcoming by-election to the RK Nagar constituency.
When asked whether they would demand resignation of Sasikala and Dhinakaran from the party, Jayakumar said that all party leaders would file affidavit in support of the complaint filed by Panneerselvam in the Election Commission to challenge the appointment of Dhinakaran as the deputy general secretary.
Interestingly, Lok Sabha deputy speaker M. Thambi Durai, who was the biggest critic of Panneerselvam, has also welcomed the proposal to patch up.
The emergency meeting took place when Dhinakaran went to meet Sasikala at the Parappana Agrahara prison in Bengaluru.
There are rumors that senior leaders of AIADMK (Amma) have given Sasikala and Dhinakaran two days to quit from their posts in the party, and threatened that they would cross over to the rival camp if the two refused to leave.
The meeting, attended by as many as 16 ministers and the majority of MLAs, took place at the residences of industries minister P. Thangamani, and housing minister Udumalai Radhakrishnan.
According to sources close to them, both Palaniswami and Panneerselvam believe that ousting of the Sasikala family would expedite the merger process.
Many leaders pointed out that around 40 MLAs still owe allegiance to the Sasikala camp, and opposed a hasty move against Sasikala and Dhinakaran. They warned that the existence of the government would be under threat if those 40 MLAs do not support the idea of the merger.
They also feared that if she was sidelined, Sasikala might even try to split the faction and take those MLAs to the DMK camp.
It is learned that the talks of merger of the two factions began a week after Income Tax officials raided health minister C. Vijayabaskar’s residence following complaints that he offered ‘cash for vote’ during campaigning in the RK Nagar constituency.