Tamil Nadu: Merger talks only after Sasikala is booted out, says Pannerselvam

BY S VENKAT NARAYAN Our Special Correspondent


NEW DELHI, April 20: The ongoing tussle for power in Tamil Nadu’s ruling party got worse today with AIADMK (Puratchi Thalaivi Amma) faction headed by former Tamil Nadu chief minister O Panneerselvam (OPS) putting up two preconditions for holding merger talks with the ruling AIADMK (Amma faction).

The Panneerselvam faction wants the AIADMK (Amma) faction to withdraw the affidavits filed with the Election Commission which claimed that V K Sasikala and TTV Dhinakaran are the general secretary and deputy general secretary, respectively, of the AIADMK.

It also wants the Edappadi K Palanisami government to ask the Centre to order a CBI probe into the death of former chief minister Jayaram Jayalalithaa last December.

"We want the expulsion of Sasikala as general secretary and Dhinakaran as deputy general secretary. A statement must be issued clearly stating their expulsion and also that no cadre should have any truck with the family members," said former minister and senior OPS group leader K P Munusamy.

"There can no compromise on the demand for a CBI probe to bring out the mystery surrounding the death of Jayalalithaa. Only if the government orders a CBI probe, we will agree to hold talks," said Munusamy.

The immediate trigger for the group putting the preconditions is the comments made by Lok Sabha Deputy Speaker M Thamidurai that Palanisami will continue as chief minister, and Finance Minister D Jayakumar’s remark that Sasikala and her family members have been sidelined not because of pressure from OPS, and that "Panneerselvam would claim that Donald Trump was elected as US President by him."

These two statements have hurt the OPS group which had held marathon meetings of MPs and MLAs since Thursday morning. Post lunch, the group laid the two new preconditions for holding merger talks.

Munusamy said the Sasikala family was using Dhinakaran to enact a drama in the AIADMK. The family members, including Sasikala, her husband Natarajan and her brother Divakaran were trying to make Dhinakaran a scapegoat, he said.

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