EVEN AS it is a matter of time for the two factions of AIADMK — led by Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami and his predecessor O Panneerselvam — to merge and form the new government, multiple Tamil Nadu ministers on Wednesday said the advantage of running the government, and having most party MLAs in their camp, is unlikely to favour the chief minister in the negotiations. Despite being a much smaller of the rival camps, the Panneerselvam faction gains a larger control in the negotiations due to the “support from Delhi”, according to sources.
An AIADMK leader from the CM camp said that a series of cases and informal phone calls to ministers from central agencies seeking personal details, the sudden progress in cases against Dinakaran that was pending for two decades, a warning to leaders close to the Sasikala family and the “surgical strike” on Health Minister C Vijayabaskar through an I-T raid all played a role in their “surrender” before a “weaker Panneerselvam faction”.
As leaders in the Panneerselvam camp asserted that he will replace Palaniswami, a senior leader close to the opposing camp said, “First they (central government) raided the Chief Secretary, then the seniormost minister was targeted. That forced us to go for a merger talk with the Panneerselvam camp. Palaniswami is unlikely to retain the CM’s post.”
According to this leader, at least four ministers will be dropped, to be replaced mostly by people close to Panneerselvam.
A two-time MLA said, “With the Centre’s blessings for the new government, the only major threat we may face next is power-sharing conflict. We are told the CM and party general secretary’s posts will be shared between the factions.”
On Wednesday, Tamil Nadu Congress chief S Thirunavukkarasar blamed the BJP for “engineering the political drama” in the state. Denying the charge, Union minister Pon Radhakrishnan said, “We have no role in the AIADMK crisis. It was an internal issue and they are settling it.”
DMK’s Opposition leader M K Stalin urged Speaker P Dhanapal to immediately convene the Assembly. He said the government is in a “coma” and there is no discussion on public issues.