- O Panneerselvam wants probe on Jayalalithaa's death by sitting judge
- He also wants VK Sasikala to be publicly sacked as the AIADMK's chief
- Team OPS no more insisting on CM's post for OPS, fine with party chief
AIADMK legislators who had gathered at J Jayalalithaa's memorial at the Marina beach in Chennai on Friday evening, in anticipation of a merger announcement, had to leave when it began to rain. The memorial was adorned with flowers and two wreaths were brought out leading to speculation that Chief Minister E Palaniswami and his predecessor O Panneerselvam, who lead the ruling party's two factions, would arrive soon and make a joint announcement.
It did not happen. After over five hours of meeting at the home of Mr Panneerselvam, called OPS, his camp sent word that Chief Minister Palaniswami's announcement of an inquiry commission to investigate the death of the party's powerful chief Ms Jayalalithaa was not enough. They want a sitting judge to conduct the probe. Team OPS also reiterated that there can be no merger move till VK Sasikala, who is in prison in a corruption case, is publicly sacked as the party's chief.
Mr Palaniswami and Mr Panneerselvam's separate meetings with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Delhi recently were seen to give the possibility of a merger a boost after several false starts. The BJP is believed to be invested in a reunited AIADMK, which has in the past supported it on key policies and legislation and is seen as friendly to the Centre.
A merger will resolve a fight between the two camps over rights to the party's name and symbol especially before crucial local body elections due in a few months in Tamil Nadu.
Former Chief Minister Ms Jayalalithaa led the AIADMK till she died in December after months in hospital.