The ruling AIADMK (Amma) faction on Friday announced setting up of a committee under party’s senior leader and Rajya Sabha MP R Vaithilingam to oversee merger talks between the camps headed by Chief Minister K Palaniswami and his predecessor O Panneerselvam.
The decision was arrived at a meeting chaired by the chief minister at the AIADMK headquarters here which was attended by senior ministers and other leaders. Local Administration Minister SP Velumani said a committee has been formed under Vaithilingam for the merger talks but did not divulge details on who the other members of the panel were.
“The Chief Minister has said Vaithilingam will be here at the party office. We will join him as and when required. As far as we are concerned, we want to redeem the ‘Two Leaves’ symbol and remain united,” he told reporters. Velumani said the common feeling in the faction was that there should be unity in the party “founded by MGR (MG Ramachandran) and taken forward by Amma (Jayalalithaa)”.
“We have now told clearly that there is a committee. The next course of action will be decided if they (Panneerselvam camp) contact us,” he added. Law Minister C V Shanmugam, who also attended the meeting, said “we are transparent and open-minded”.
Members of both factions “had worked together in the past and we are ready to sit and resolve differences”, he said. Earlier, the ministers and senior leaders met at the party headquarters under Palaniswami, a day after the rival Panneerselvam camp set formal removal of party chief V K Sasikala and her nephew and deputy T T V Dinakaran as conditions for the merger talks.
Hardening its stance for talks, it had demanded that the faction led by Palaniswami formally expel Sasikala and Dinakaran besides about 30 other members of their family from the AIADMK. Following the cabinet’s revolt against him early this week, Dinakaran had said he was “stepping aside” in the interest of the party.
A top leader in the Panneerselvam camp, K P Munusamy, had on Thursday said the first demand was getting the resignation of Sasikala and Dinakaran and later their formal expulsion along with 30 other members of their family. The Panneerselvam camp has also sought a CBI probe into the circumstances leading to former Chief Minister Jayalalithaa’s death on December 5 last year.