Even as the two AIADMK factions continue their talks, doubts have begun to emerge about the possible chances of reconciliation between the factions. The O Panneerselvam (OPS) group is adamant that VK Sasikala and Dinakaran resign from their party positions. So far, this has proven to be unacceptable to the Edappadi camp.
The OPS camp feels that in the past ten days, the Edappadi side has not shown any interest in conveying their decision on the following two conditions. 1) Tamil Nadu Government should order a CBI inquiry into the death of J Jayalalithaa. 2) Sasikala and Dinakaran should submit their resignation letters and publish them in the media.
The OPS camp alleges that the Edappadi camp is dragging merger talks for one simple reason - TTV Dinakaran has to consolidate AIADMK party funds, which are in thousands of crores and under the control of Sasikala and Dinakaran. OPS is keen that unless financial control is wrested from Sasikala and Dinakaran, merger talks will not take off.
The OPS camp is not worried though. The OPS camp is confident that once the merger talks fail, half of the Edappadi camp will cross over. According to their estimate, 60% of the AIADMK cadre are with O Panneerselvam. "We shall try to get more cadres and contest the Panchayat elections in July 2017. Till then, let us not waste our energy on unity talks," said a source close to O Pannerselvam.
The OPS group is keen on completely sidelining the Edappadi camp. For example, OPS recently met Tamil Maanila Congress (TMC) leader GK Vasan to discuss a possible electoral alliance for the TN panchayat elections, scheduled for July 2017. The planned 'mahagatbandan' will include OPS' AIADMK, Vasan's TMC, Vijayakant's DMDK, Dr S Ramadoss' PMK, Vaiko's MDMK and the state unit of the BJP.
It is hoped this 'mahagatbandhan' will give a tough fight to the DMK front.
Speaking to this columnist, a senior leader of the AIADMK stated - "Our conditions are very tough. Edappadi camp will not come for the first round of talks itself. But we want a reaction from the Edappadi camp in full public glare. When pro-Edappadi AIADMK leaders are in jail, how can the second rung leaders talk about Unity? This is an unreasonable demand by the Edappati side."
Adding fuel to the rumours of a failed talk, the Edappadi camp district secretaries have been meeting for the past three days to get an affidavit signed and submitted to the Election Commission. The affidavit clearly indicates that a merger may not take place as district secretaries of the Palanisamy camp still owe their allegiance to Sasikala and Dinakaran. The OPS side has seen the affidavit, adding to the already negative around the unity talks.
Sources also shared that the OPS camp was organising AIADMK founder MGR's Centenary Celebrations near Chennai on June 8 and June 9. OPS and other leaders from his camp have plans to tour the entire state of Tamil Nadu before the MGR birthday event. This move is hoped to energise the AIADMK cadre and get feedback from the hardcore cadre of Jayalalitha. The tour, which will also be a counter-blow to the Edappadi camp, will give OPS an understanding of his position.
So while a merger is the talk of the town, the chances of it happening anytime soon are slim.
Last Updated 31, Mar 2018, 6:37 PM