"We did not remove the banners because they (Puratchi Thalaivi Amma camp) demanded so. They were removed as per an earlier decision taken by us," Law Minister CV Shanmugam told reporters. The Panneerselvam camp's 'Presidium Chairman' E Madusudanan had yesterday made such a demand to "uphold the sanctity" of the party office.
Meanwhile, former minister and key Panneerselvam aide KP Munusamy said differences between the "brothers", an apparent reference to the rival factions, would be overcome and talks will be held in a conducive atmosphere. The party headquarter, addressed as Thalamai Kazhagam in Tamil, now has only banners of late chief minister J Jayalalithaa.
The Panneerselvam camp said removal of the banners was the "first step" in implementing their core demand of removing Sasikala from AIADMK. "The pulling down of banners (featuring) Sasikala, whom we want to be removed from the party, is the first step in the implementation of that demand. We express our happiness over that," former Minister and key Panneerselvam aide KP Munusamy said.
Shanmugam said the leader of the Amma faction panel, R Vaithilingam, MP, has "contacted those" in the Panneerselvam camp and invited them for talks today.
"So far there has been no information from them. We are ready to hold talks whenever required," he said. On the issue of merger talks, Mr Munusamy said only the media was speculating on it, but had not specified when the two factions planned to sit down and thrash out differences. The rival faction was also "heeding to our demands," he said, in an apparent reference to removal of Sasikala banners.
"They (Amma faction) are aware of our aspirations and there are many who want to do that (merger talks) and some who don't want to," he said, adding, the pulling down of the banners was proof that efforts are on to "rein in such persons" in the opposite camp. Mr Munuswamy pointed out that Panneerselvam himself had stated yesterday that a conducive atmosphere was evolving in both factions for holding talks.
"Talks will happen when there will be an atmosphere for amicable solution," he added. Lashing out at AIADMK Deputy General Secretary TTV Dhinakaran, Mr Munusamy said he had committed a "big mistake" by allegedly trying to bribe an Election Commission official for retaining the party's Two Leaves symbol, an issue that has landed him in the police net.
He said though such an "extraordinary situation" came up even after the death of party founder MG Ramachandran (MGR), when AIADMK loyalists were divided between MGR's widow Janaki and Jayalalithaa, "none tried to bribe the EC".
"None tried to bribe the EC to get the Two Leaves symbol then," Mr Munusamy said, adding Jayalalithaa took over the leadership of AIADMK after Janaki "stepped aside." However, Dhinakaran was now making "backdoor" efforts to wrest control of the party by having tried to bribe the EC, he alleged. Responding to Dhinakaran's arrest, he said "the law has done its duty."
To a question, he said their demand for a CBI probe into the "mysterious death" of Jayalalithaa will remain "alive".
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)