CHENNAI: The day started with high expectations of a merger of the chief minister Edappadi K Palaniswami and O Panneerselvam-led factions, even as senior partymen and cadre congregated at former chief minister J Jayalalithaa’s memorial on the Marina front and the AIADMK headquarters in Chennai. But, as the day wore on and news trickled in about dissensions within the OPS camp , spirits dampened by late evening and disappointed cadres, who had braved heavy showers, gradually dispersed.
The meeting at OPS’s Greenways Road residence in Chennai began at 5pm with partymen anxiously awaiting the outcome and journalists keeping a close watch. Around 8pm, senior leaders E Madhusudanan, C Ponnaiyan and P H Pandian left the meeting. They were followed by three MLAs, who left through the backdoor to avoid the crowds.
Senior party leaders K P Munusamy, P H Pandian, Manoj Pandian and V Maithreyan hardened their stand on the “offer” from the EPS camp. “All these leaders, sidelined by Jayalalithaa, but first to team up with OPS, were firm on their demands,” a party leader, who came out of the meeting at 9pm, told TOI. First Panneerselvam and other senior leaders addressed MLAs and MPs. The OPS camp has 10 MLAs and 12 MPs on its side. “Later, Munusamy suggested that Panneerselvam talk to cadres (middle level leaders) directly and get their views. Following this, Panneerselvam discussed with some cadres who advised him not to rush through the merger and not to compromise on their demands,” said the leader.
Source said apart from demanding posts for themselves, some of the senior leaders also demanded posts for their supporters in corporations and other government organisations.
The meeting began on a high note, a day after chief minister Palaniswami conceded to two key demands of the OPS camp – a judicial inquiry into Jayalalithaa’s death and converting her Poes Garden residence into a memorial. But, with the OPS camp appearing to be divided over some key issues like the posts of CM and AIADMK general secretary, the talks petered out around 9pm. Sources said that discussions, however, resumed and was likely to go on for a few hours.
The T T V Dhinakaran camp, closely watching the developments, appeared elated over the apparent deadlock in the negotiations. “If the EPS and the OPS camps are really keen on a merger, where is the need for such prolonged deliberations, stretching beyond three to four hours. It does not look like a political deal. It looks more like an Ambani and Adani trying to strike a deal,” said Jeyanandh Dhivakaran, son of Diwakaran, who is the brother of party general secretary, V K Sasikala.