In signs that talks on the merger of the two factions of AIADMK had reached a decisive stage, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister E K Palaniswami on Thursday announced an inquiry by a retired high court judge into AIADMK chief J Jayalalithaa’s death. A probe into the former Chief Minister’s death was a key demand of the AIADMK faction headed by O Panneerselvam.
Palaniswami, who is heading the other faction, also accepted the demand of the OPS camp to convert Jayalalithaa’s Poes Garden residence in Chennai into a government-run memorial.
Sources in the OPS camp expressed satisfaction at the decisions, but maintained that a merger could only take place after the complete ouster of V S Sasikala from the party. Palaniswami’s announcements indicated that the talks between the EPS and OPS factions — which broke down and were revived several times in the last few months — were progressing well.
“Various news from various sections and forums are appearing in the media about the death of Puratchi Thalaivi Amma…. An inquiry commission headed by a retired high court judge will be set up to look into the death of Idhaya Deivam (god of heart) Amma,” the CM said. He added that Jayalalithaa’s Poes Garden residence “Veda Nilayam will be turned into a government memorial and the general public will be allowed entry”.
After rebelling against the leadership of Sasikala in February, Panneerselvam had raised suspicion over the circumstances of Jayalalithaa’s death. His camp had demanded a CBI probe into the matter. On Thursday, however, they welcomed the probe announcement. Senior leaders like K P Munusamy, though, said the merger between the AIADMK factions could happen only when Sasikala and her family are fully ousted from the party.
Sasikala’s nephew T T V Dinakaran, who both factions want ousted, had surprisingly demanded a judicial probe into Jayalalithaa’s death. On Thursday, leaders close to him claimed credit for the announcement of the probe. “The announcement has come only after a demand was made by our leader Dinakaran, it is welcome,” Dinakaran loyalist and MLA P Vetrivel said.
The EPS faction has already passed a resolution declaring that the appointment of Dinakaran as the party’s deputy general secretary is not acceptable. The OPS camp, however, wants complete ejection of the family. It has also approached the Election Commission demanding that the posts of Sasikala and Dinakaran be declared invalid in the AIADMK.
The Opposition DMK, meanwhile, described the probe as an eyewash and asked the Tamil Nadu government to order a CBI probe if it was truly interested in unravelling the matter. DMK working president M K Stalin also demanded the resignation of the CM and his Cabinet to facilitate a fair probe by the CBI. Senior DMK leader and Rajya Sabha MP T K S Elangovan said the probe was aimed at easing out Sasikala and her family from politics.