Former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O Panneerselvam on Tuesday said the VK Sasikala family had brought “ill name” to the state and demanded that they be removed from important posts in the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam if his faction was to merge with the parent party. His demand comes after the Delhi Police on Monday filed a First Information Report against party Deputy General Secretary TTV Dinakaran for offering to bribe the Election Commission to get hold of the party’s frozen “two leaves” symbol.
Panneerselvam also said his supporters would not give up their demand for a judicial probe into the circumstance around former Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa’s death. “This was the fundamental of our dharmic war that we started in February,” he said at a press conference in his native place Theni. “Both MGR and Jayalalithaa abhorred family interference in politics – we will never waiver from this stand of our leaders.”
The stipulations are currently being discussed with party deputy general secretary TTV Dinakaran. Officials in the AIADMK said Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswamy is keen on completing the merger before the EC’s next hearing on the dispute over the party’s “two leaves” symbol.
A senior leader in the Panneerselvam camp told Scroll.in that Dinakaran was willing to step down from his post if an assurance was given that his aunt, Sasikala, who is currently lodged in a Bengaluru jail, is allowed to continue as general secretary. Dinakaran also wants an assurance that he will continue as a member of the party and preferably find a place in the AIADMK’s high-level committee as well.
However, the Panneerselvam camp is not ready to accept this offer. They have made it clear to Palaniswamy that the entire Sasikala clan should be sidelined for the merger to take place. A senior official in the Panneerselvam camp said they have no problem with Palaniswamy continuing as chief minister. “He is a very senior leader and a loyal AIADMK man,” the leader said. “Our problem is with Sasikala and her family.”
On Monday night, all senior leaders of the Panneerselvam faction held a three-hour discussion to arrive at the demands they should place before Palaniswamy for the merger to take place. These are:
- Sasikala and Dinakaran should resign from their posts immediately.
- Panneerselvam should either be inducted into the Cabinet as second-in-command or be made the party chief.
- E Madhusoodhanan, the faction’s candidate for the RK Nagar bye-poll, should be declared the common candidate whenever the polls are held. RK Nagar was J Jayalaltihaa’s seat before she died.
- The Sasikala clan should be kept away from all decision-making bodies in the party.
- Two members of the Panneerselvam camp should be inducted into the Cabinet and Health Minister C Vijaya Baskar, a staunch Sasikala loyalist who is under Income Tax investigation, should be dropped from the ministry.
Officials close to Palaniswamy said Dinakaran was being persuaded to step down. “The party feels Sasikala remaining the chief will devastate its chances in the impending local bodies polls,” a senior leader said.
Senior ministers have also begun reaching out to MLAs considered loyal to Dinakaran. In case Dinakaran and Sasikala refuse to resign, the party might initiate action to push them out.
A 11-member team consisting of senior ministers and MPs has been formed to hold talks with Panneerselvam. The panel is likely to meet the former Chief Minister on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Dinakaran returned to Chennai from Bengaluru after prison officials refused to allow him to meet Sasikala.