O Pannerselvam, former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and leader of one of the factions of the AIADMK, today met Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi and discussed merger.Talking to reporters later, he said” I discussed the political situation in Tamil Nadu and the functioning of the Edappadi Government”, an apparent reference on how it is hamstrung by the threat posed by expelled deputy general secretary T T V Dinakaran and his jailed aunt and general secretary V K Sasikala.
Though Pannerselvam was not forthcoming, it was evident that he was told in clear terms by Modi that he should not delay merger of the two groups by putting impossible conditions like complete exclusion of the Sasikala clan from the party and governance and a CBI probe into circumstances surrounding the death of former Chief Minister J Jayalalitha. He got the message when he landed in New Delhi last Saturday as Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah refused to meet him while entertaining Chief Minister Edappadi K Palanisamy. Snubbed, Pannerselvam flew to Shirdi for a darshan of Saibaba . He returned to the capital after getting the green signal on Sunday night and met Modi.
With this, decks have been cleared. The BJP is of the view that the threat posed by Dinakaran can be met only if the two groups come togetheras the government’s strength in the 234-member Assembly will then go up to 133, minus Jayalalitha.Her R K Nagar seat is lying vacant since the cancellation of the by-election last April . The bypoll was cancelled following large-scale distribution of money to voters by Dinakaran who wanted to get elected by hook or by crook so he can upstage Edappadi.
The two leaders are expected to finalise the merger in the next few days. The tentatively approved plan is to let Edappadi to continue as CM while Pannerselvam can be inducted as Deputy CM and entrusted with running the AIADMK as head of a seven-man committee.Edappadi has already met Pannerselvam half way by expelling Dinakaran by terming his appointment as general secretary as illegal and the posts offered by him to MLAs to destabilize his government as null and void.Once the terms are agreed upon, the united entity will have to call the general secretary and elect a new set of office-bearers which will supersede all previous appointments, including that of Sasikala as general secretary.The two sides then can file a joint affidavit before the Election Commission to enable it to derecognise Sasikala and free the frozen ‘Two Leaves” symbol.Unfazed by these developments, Dinakaran has gone to Madurai for his first public meeting projected as a show of strength.He told reporters that it was Sasikala who installed Edappadi as CM and so long he followed in the footsteps of Jayalalitha, he could survive. The message was that if Edappadi went the BJP way, Dinakaran would not hesitate to pull the plug.