OPS, as he is popularly known in Tamil Nadu, and Chief Minister E Palaniswami were in Delhi over the week-end to attend the oath ceremony of Venkaiah Naidu, who took over as the Vice President of India on Friday. But they were also expected to hammer out the details of a merger, which had an August 15 deadline -- and meet PM Modi. There are speculations that the AIADMK is moving towards an alliance with the BJP - the party leaders have so far skirted the issue in their statements.
But OPS was not present during Chief Minister Palaniswami's meeting with PM Modi. He was later granted a separate time slot by the Prime Minister. Asked about it earlier, Mr Panneerselvam sounded casual. "We have met the PM during the swearing-in. No need to meet him separately," Mr Panneerselvam told NDTV. Asked if he would visit Mumbai next, he only smiled.
C Vidyasagar Rao, who is the Governor of Maharashtra, holds the additional charge of Tamil Nadu. Mr Rao usually resides in Mumbai. But he is expected to be in Chennai this evening for a private event and will stay there till the Independence Day.
Sources in the Panneerselvam camp have been skeptical of the two factions coming to an understanding, since part of their differences involve the contentious issue of who will head the Tamil Nadu government.
Their other demand is the formal removal of Jayalalithaa's live-in aide VK Sasikala and her nephew TTV Dhinakaran from the two topmost party posts. The two have already been sidelined by EPS, whom Sasikala had installed as the proxy in the state's top job before she went to jail in February in a corruption case.
Mr Dinakaran, who has been named in several corruption cases, commands a support of around 16 legislators - including some ministers in the EPS camp. Both factions are keenly watching a rally near Madurai that he is expected to address tomorrow.
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