- Competing factions of AIADMK say they're in "advanced talks"
- Team led by O Panneerselvam had challenged trust vote held in Feb
- Trust vote was won by E Palaniswami, who leads larger faction
Who should head the government remains the main unresolved issue as Teams EPS and OPS try to navigate a return to a unified party.
In December, it was J Jayalalithaa's death while still Chief Minister that resulted in her party, the AIADMK, morphing into groups snarling at each other.
After her death, it was Ms Jayalalithaa's long-term live-in aide, VK Sasikala, who became the new power centre of the party. OPS, who was Ms Jayalalithaa's long-running understudy while she was alive, was made Chief Minister. Then Ms Sasikala decided she wanted that role for herself. OPS revolted, amassing the support of 12 legislators. Ms Sasikala was then suddenly sentenced to prison by the Supreme Court for a decades-old corruption case involving Ms Jayalalithaa and her. She picked EPS, a loyalist, as Chief Minister and he won his trust vote.
But in recent weeks, EPS and his ministers have grown wary of the association with Ms Sasikala and her nephew, TTV Dinakaran, who she made the party's No 2. Ms Sasikala's clan is unpopular with the public on account of a reputation for corruption and Mr Dinakaran has been linked to two attempts to bribe voters in Chennai and Election Commission officials in Delhi in exchange for the rights to the party symbol. By agreeing to OPS' request to remove Ms Sasikala from the party, EPS has become the leader of her faction - what used to be the Sasikala Squad of about 120 legislators is now Team EPS.
The two leaves that denote the party to voters cannot be used by either faction till the Election Commission decides which of the two teams is the original AIADMK. Today, both sides were granted more time to offer evidence that they are the real AIADMK by the Commission, which, like the Supreme Court, was told that a decision may not be needed if the merger goes ahead.
The Supreme Court will next hear the case in early July.