AIADMK had been split in two rival camps led by VK Sasikala (left) and O Panneerselvam (File)
Chennai: After 25 ministers and lawmakers held an emergency meeting in capital Chennai on Monday night, the VK Sasikala-led AIADMK faction that rules Tamil Nadu has "welcomed" what it said was an offer from the rival O Panneerselvam camp to discuss re-uniting the party. There is pressure reportedly on party chief Ms Sasikala and her nephew and deputy TTV Dinakaran to resign. Mr Dinakaran was in Bengaluru to meet Ms Sasikala, who is in jail in a corruption case.
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"We welcome O Panneerselvam's offer for talks," said minister D Jayakumar, stating that a merger with the rival faction would strengthen the AIADMK, which split earlier this year. The aim, the minister said, was to get back the party's Two-Leaf symbol, frozen by the Election Commission after both camps claimed it.
"We will keep the party together; 172 MLAs are together and all of them want to continue to make sure that the party stays together," he added.
The minister said no decision has been taken on Ms Sasikala and Mr Dinakaran, who would be briefed on his return from Bengaluru.
Mr Dinakaran, who was expected to meet Ms Sasikala in jail on Monday, is on his way back to Chennai, sources said. Before he left Chennai, Mr Dinakaran said there was "no question" of him resigning, emphatically denying that there was a rebellion brewing in the party against him and his aunt.
Back in Chennai there has been talk of a "compromise formula" that could see former chief minister Mr Panneerselvam or OPS as he is called, appointed chief of a re-united AIADMK replacing Ms Sasikala, who was elevated as head of the party soon after the death of AIADMK chief and Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa, whose long-time companion Ms Sasikala was.
TTV Dinakaran was appointed deputy chief of the AIADMK by Ms Sasikala hours before she left Chennai for the Bengaluru prison in February. She also ensured that a leader loyal to her, E Palaniswami, became chief minister. Mr Palaniswami is seen to be at the centre of the patch-up attempt with the OPS camp and is likely to remain chief minister under the formula being discussed, sources said.
Ministers and AIADMK lawmakers are worried that recent allegations of corruption against Mr Dinakaran are hurting the party and several of them have reportedly asked him and other members of Ms Sasikala's family to resign within two days. Mr Dinakaran, sources said, has also stonewalled all attempts at making peace with the OPS camp.
Mr Dinakaran was today accused by the Delhi Police of wanting to bribe Election Commission officials. He has charged with corruption and conspiracy, after the arrest from a five-star hotel Delhi of a middleman named Sukesh Chandrasekar, who has alleged that Mr Dinakaran tasked him with bribing poll panel officials for being granted the right to use the AIADMK's symbol.
Mr Dinakaran has said he does not know Sukesh Chandrasekar and alleged that efforts were being made to "destroy our organisation politically".
The Election Commission had suspended the Two-Leaf symbol after Mr Panneerselvam challenged Ms Sasikala's elevation as the AIADMK's interim general secretary. The symbol has been assigned to neither faction for a by-election that was to be held last week in Ms Jayalalithaa's RK Nagar assembly constituency in Chennai. The by-poll was cancelled after allegations that Mr Dinakaran had tried to bribe voters.