Chennai: Senior minister D. Jayakumar appears to have derailed the patch-up process in the ruling AIADMK, which many on both sides of the bitter divide were seriously hoping would fructify before this weekend.
Jayakumar’s assertion before TV cameras Tuesday morning that both the factions are close to uniting as serious talks are still on, even though their ‘formal’ negotiating teams have been disbanded, had raised high hopes. The united AIADMK would be run by a seven-member committee, he had said.
Some media reports followed up on Jayakumar’s revelation with additional claims — such as former CM O. Panneerselvam to be the chairman of the party’s to-be-formed steering committee with CM Edappadi K. Palaniswami to be the deputy chairman. The committee would reportedly have three members from the EPS camp and two from the OPS group, making a total of seven.
Minister Jayakumar’s media interaction infuriated the OPS camp, where senior leaders seemed upset that he had revealed, quite prematurely, the merger moves at their most sensitive stage and thereby vitiated the atmosphere.
“Jayakumar is lying. I strongly condemn it. No talks are being held”, thundered former minister and OPS’ spokesman K.P.Munusamy. “His words only betray the truth that the Sasikala family still controls his party. It’s clear that they are unable to stomach the fact that people’s support for our (OPS) group is growing by the day”.
“Jayakumar is speaking like this only to create confusion among the public and the party cadres”, alleged Munusamy, adding, “Talks will resume only after our two main demands are fulfilled. We have been insisting on a CBI probe into Jayalalithaa’s death and the ejection of the Sasikala faction from the party”.OPS camp sources said with Jayakumar putting his foot in the mouth, it has now been decided to halt all talks with the EPS group. “On the other hand, we are expecting a favourable order from the Election Commission on our petition seeking annulment of Sasikala’s appointment as AIADMK general secretary. When that happens, OPS will regain his big strength”, said a senior member of the OPS camp.
The OPS team has been nursing the hope that Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi would pronounce his verdict on Sasikala before his retirement on July 5 (Wednesday) and that would significantly add to OPS’s strength at the negotiating table. His successor Achal Kumar Joti, they now hope, would agree with Zaidi’s unpronounced decision.
Sources said while the OPS camp is determined about the expulsion of Sasikala from the AIADMK affairs, it is not averse to allowing some space to her nephew, TTV Dhinakaran though not in his present commanding position as the party deputy general secretary. “TTV has been the most affable person from that family. He gets along with everyone, quite easily”, said an OPS camper, adding, “But we must wait and see if he can stay clear of any adverse impact of the ongoing cases against him”.