AIADMK factions merge; OPS takes oath as TN Dy CM

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 22 Aug 2017 08:35:15



RIVAL AIADMK factions led by Chief Minister K Palaniswami and rebel leader O Panneerselvam on Monday merged, ending a nearly seven-month feud in a power sharing formula in the ruling party and the Government in which the latter was made the Deputy Chief Minister.

As the merger brought to an end weeks of suspense during which there was tough negotiations, the two factions said steps would be taken to expel party chief V K Sasikala. The merger facilitated the return of Panneerselvam to the Government as Finance Minister, isolating Deputy General Secretary T T V Dhinakaran, Sasikala’s nephew, and his camp.

Calling each other ‘Annan’ (elder brother), both Palaniswami and Panneerselvam described the merger as “historic”.
Palaniswami also announced that a 11-member steering committee will lead the party affairs and its members will be announced later.

Panneerselvam was sworn in as Deputy Chief Minister and his close associate and former Minister K Pandiarajan as Culture Minister by Governor Vidyasagar Rao at Raj Bhawan after the merger at the party headquarters here. The former Chief Minister was allotted several portfolios including Finance, a portfolio he has held before.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated Panneerselvam and assured all support to the Palaniswami Government.
“I congratulate Thiru O Panneerselvam & others who took oath today. I hope Tamil Nadu scales newer heights of progress in the years to come,” the Prime Minister tweeted. “Centre assures all possible support to CM Thiru Edappadi K.

Palaniswami & Dy CM Thiru O Panneerselvam for the growth of TN,” he said in another tweet. In a forumla evolved to strike a balance in the party and the Government, Panneerselvam agreed to be the Deputy Chief Minister. In the party, Panneerselvam was made the ‘coordinator’ and the Chief Minister the ‘co-coordinator.’
Vaithilingam of Palaniswami camp and K P Munusamy of Panneerselvam faction were named deputy coordinators.
Palaniswami expressed confidence that the merged party would get back the ‘Two-leaves’ symbol that has been frozen by the Election Commission. Palaniswamy led the ‘AIADMK Amma’ faction while Panneerselvam headed the ‘AIADMK Puratchi Thalaivi Amma’ faction.

After clearing the decks for the merger, Palaniswami arrived at the party office first and Panneerselvam followed suit.
Both were given a rousing reception by party cadres who swarmed the party headquarters and lined the road leading to the party headquarters office. Panneerselvam’s visit to the party office was the first after almost seven-months. He visited the party headquarters on February 5 for electing Sasikala as Leader of the Legislature Party.

The rebel leader had earlier visited the office as Chief Minister before his revolt against Sasikala on February seven in the fight for legacy of AIADMK supremo Jayalalithaa who died on December 5 last year.

A smiling Palaniswami, who made the announcement of the rival factions burying their hatchet, and Panneerselvam shook hands signalling the merger.