August 21, 2017
Chennai: It all began at Amma memorial on Marina beach. And in a way, former chief minister O Panneerselvam’s revolt against VK Sasikala culminated at Amma memorial on Monday after he extracted a promise to evict her formally from the party at the first available opportunity and merged with EPS faction.
Within minutes of shaking hands and making up with Edapaddi Palanisami, the former chief minister OPS was inducted as deputy chief minister and was given charge of running the affairs of the party as the coordinator of its 11-member panel.
He was also given all the portfolios he was wanting as also given charge of running the party affairs with the help of a team comprising seven members each from both sides. EPS will be the co-coordinator of the panel on party affairs.
OPS given the portfolios of finance, PWD that he was keen on, besides housing, rural housing, housing development, Slum clearance board, Town Planning Board, Urban Development and Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority. Former minister M Foi Pandiarajan was also inducted as a minister for Tamil Official Language and Tamil culture.
OPS had in fact put a last minute hurdle, pressing for ouster of Sasikala as the most essential precondition for merger. But he was eventually won over by three senior leaders of AIADMK – two ministers Velumani and Thangamani and parliament member Vaithialingam. Incidentally, RSS ideologue and Tuglak editor S Gurumurthy is said to have played a key role in facilitating the merger of the two factions.
Top on priority of the party, OPS said, now was to retrieve the two leaves symbol now frozen by the election commission. “We had slight differences of opinion and have now come together forgetting all our differences in the interests of the party. The unification is in deference to the wishes of lakhs of supporters and cadres of the party.”
Chief minister Palanisami welcomed OPS and said “all must unite to strengthen the party and fulfil all the promises made by Amma.” He admitted that there were differences but were ironed out and merger could take place.
Both the leaders refrained from taking the name off Sasikala. But a senior leader Vaithialingam said a general council meeting could be held to remove Sasikala later.
Minutes after shaking hands and announcing merger, the two leaders and their entourage sought “Amma’s blessings” at her memorial from where all headed to Raj Bhavan for swearing in ceremony to induct OPS and Pandiarajan into the cabinet.
It was from the memorial that OPS revolt started and it is here that it culminated. But is the merger stable and government have longevity is the question exercising the minds of many in the state.
Already Dinakaran has threatened that the government will fall if Sasikala was removed from the party post.
Incidentally, he is going to hold another show of strength at a rally in North Chennai on Wednesday. Meanwhile, at his residence some 16 MLAs congregated even as merger was happening at party office.
Dinakaran and his supporters were combative and threatened that ‘sleeper cells’ could get active at a time of their choice.
Dinakaran supporter Najil Sampath lashed out at the merger and said that it will not last as it was “a greedy action to grab power.” The entire game was planned in Dubai, money had changed hands, he alleged.
When asked about moves to remove Saikala, Sampath snapped “no one can sack Chinnamma who made many of these into ministers.”