The two factions of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam on Monday announced their merger at the party headquarters, after months of political drama. The announcement was made by Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami and former Chief Minister O Panneerselvam during a press conference, which was also attended by other party leaders.
“No one can separate us,” Panneerselvam said at the conference announcing the merger. “We are fulfilling the dreams of crores of cadres and doing this merger. From now on, we will work towards fulfilling Amma’s dreams.”
With the merger, Palaniswami remains the chief minister and Panneerselvam became his deputy. He also got back the finance ministry portfolio that was earlier held by D Jayakumar. Panneerselvam’s swearing-in ceremony will be held at 4.30 pm on Monday. Before the merger announcement, Tamil Nadu chief secretary had met Governor Vidyasagar Rao to discuss the possible Cabinet expansion.
For the merged outfit, Panneerselvam will be the convenor and Palaniswami the co-convener. AIADMK leader KP Munusamy has been appointed the deputy co-convenor of the party. An 11-member coordination committee will run the party.
The chief minister said the first priority of the party will be to retrieve the two leaves symbol that the Election Commission had frozen earlier this year. “We will fulfil all the promises made by Amma. She had said that after her AIADMK will last over 100 years. We will make sure it happens,” he added.
Panneerselvam said the decision on Sasikala’s expulsion from AIADMK will be taken after the party general body meeting. VK Sasikala will be officially removed from the party, Rajya Sabha member and Deputy Convenor of AIADMK R Vaithilingam told Scroll. in. A general council will be convened to remove her.
The OPS camp had demanded a written assurance that Sasikala will be sacked as the party chief. Earlier on Monday, Palaniswami delayed the scheduled merger announcement as the draft resolution sacking Sasikala from the party was not ready.
S Semallai, leader of the OPS camp, said all their demands were met with. “We are happy with everything,” he told earlier ANI.
One of the key demands of Panneerselvam’s AIADMK camp was the “formal expulsion” of VK Sasikala and her family members, including her nephew TTV Dinakaran, from the party. The Palaniswami faction had passed a resolution on August 10 to remove Dinakaran from the AIADMK deputy general secretary’s post.
Talks to merge the two sides made progress on August 17 after Palaniswami agreed to some of Panneerselvam’s terms, including setting up an inquiry commission to investigate the death of former Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa.