Home World India AIADMK factions merge; Sasikala to be shown door

AIADMK factions merge; Sasikala to be shown door

CHENNAI

Six months after a bitter parting of ways following then chief minister J Jayalalithaa’s death, the two factions of the All India Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) merged on Monday with rebel leader O Panneerselvam becoming the Tamil Nadu deputy chief minister and AIADMK coordinator even as the party decided to sack the now jailed VK Sasikala as general secretary.

Panneerselvam, who was twice chief minister when Jayalalithaa was jailed and again after she died in December, also got back his finance portfolio besides housing, rural housing and housing development. He quit as chief minister the last time in February after differences with Sasikala, a long-time Jayalalithaa aide.

Immediately after the merger, Pannerselvam was sworn in as deputy chief minister along with his supporter K Pandiarajan, who was made minister for archaeology, Tamil language and Tamil culture at a brief ceremony for which Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao flew in from Mumbai. Pandiarajan was earlier the minister for higher education.

With the foe-turned-friend Chief Minister K Palaniswami by his side, Pannerselvam signed the files at Raj Bhavan.

The merger of the two factions came after weeks of hectic parleys, overcoming the acrimony and last-minute tough conditions set by the Panneerselvam group which insisted on an announcement about Sasikala’s removal. She is now in a Bengaluru jail for corruption.

AIADMK sources said the BJP played a role in the coming together of the two factions though officially that party has denied this. The merged AIADMK is poised to join the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and could become a part of the Modi government.

The much-awaited coming together of the two factions was announced at a function at the AIADMK headquarters where the chief minister disclosed the changes within the party.

The chief minister will be the joint coordinator while Panneerselvam faction leader KP Munuswami and Palaniswami faction leader and MP Vaithyalingam will be the deputy coordinators. An 11-member guidance committee will steer the merged AIADMK, he said.

Vaithyalingam, who spoke against family rule at the event, announced that the AIADMK general council will meet soon to remove Sasikala, who was appointed general secretary by the same body after Jayalalithaa died on December 5 last year.

Veteran leader C Ponnaiyan said that appointment was illegal as the general secretary can only be elected by the party’s primary members.

Speaking at the party headquarters, Panneerselvam said differences between the two groups had been sorted out and the leaders had come together to protect the government and the legacy of the late MGR and Jayalalithaa.

Meanwhile, the smaller faction headed by TTV Dinakaran, Sasikala’s nephew, has warned against his own and Sasikala’s sacking as deputy general secretary and general secretary of the AIADMK.

Dinakaran is said to enjoy the support of a dozen MLAs. Leaders of the faction attacked both Panneerselvam and Palaniswami. Pugazhendi, president of the AIADMK’s Karnataka unit, said the Dinakaran faction would not allow the government to continue.

Indo-Asian News Service