Chennai: The stage is now set for the merger of the two factions of the AIADMK with the camp led by chief minister Edappadi K Palaniswami openly declaring the appointment of TTV Dhinakaran as deputy general secretary by his aunt VK Sasikala as "illegal" and asking him to refrain from "creating confusion" in the party through his actions.
While this is a significant step in healing the rift with the breakaway faction led by former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O Panneerselvam (OPS), senior leaders in the breakaway faction described the resolution as a half measure.
Dhinakaran, who is Sasikala's nephew, said his post was a nominated one and the party general secretary could name office-bearers to such posts. Sources confirmed that the chief minister's group is likely to submit these resolutions to the Election Commission and seek defreezing of the AIADMK two-leaves symbol that could pave way for the merger of the EPS group and the faction led by former chief minister O Panneerselvam. One of them said their faction was firm that a merger could only take place if Sasikala and her clan were expelled from the party.
He was admitted by Sasikala on February 15, the day she surrendered in the Bengaluru court in connection with the corruption case, and on the same day he was made party deputy general secretary. He asserted that the appointments he made were valid as well and these were in tune with party bye-laws. Last week Dinakaran had appointed 60 new office-bearers of the party. I will never undermine the rule of the AIADMK in Tamil Nadu.
Meanwhile, both Panneerselvam and Palaniswamy are expected to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi on August 11, when they arrive to take part in the swearing-in of Venkaiah Naidu as vice-president. Her camp then moved party MLAs to a resort ahead of a crucial trust vote.
In the Dinakaran camp, the suspicion now is that the BJP has increased pressure on the two factions to merge quickly. The party also wants the AIADMK government to continue, since an election in Tamil Nadu now will be to the advantage of the Opposition Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam. The EPS faction felt the appointments were to confuse the ranks.
Yet the BJP remains sceptical knowing that Dhinakaran and Dhivakaran, brother of party general secretary Sasikala, have joined hands now making Sasikala's family stronger than ever before and EPS well aware of this development, can't risk his position.
Dhinakaran has faced a challenge from senior AIADMK leaders ever since he was was named deputy general secretary by his aunt Sasikala, who is now lodged in a Bengaluru prison after being convicted in the disproportionate assets case.