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EPS, OPS merger on AIADMK cards but marriage after divorce is not easy

21 April, 2017 12:03 PM
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The O Panneerselvam camp will be happy if mid-term poll happens in Tamil Nadu. Still, the OPS and EPS camps are in talks for a possible merger.

With the Election Commission giving the two factions of the AIADMK time till June 16 to submit supporting documents to claim the frozen party symbol 'Two Leaves', the talks of merger of OPS and EPS camps have further intensified.

Chief Minister E Palanassami and former Chief Minister and rebel leader O Panneerselvam are said to have reached some kind of agreement over merger of the two factions to end the turmoil in the party since the death of Jayalalithaa.

The speculation for merger gained momentum once the EPS camp of the ruling AIADMK (Amma) decided to show jailed party general secretary Sasikala and deputy general secretary TTV Dhinakaran the doors.

Rebellion, division and merger are not new for the AIADMK. J Jayalalithaa and Janaki Ramachandran had led separate factions of AIADMK after MGR's death. They later buried their hatchet when Janaki surrendered her claim to the party.

But this time around, the merger of the two factions does not seem to be a repeat of 1989 episode.

Many supporters of O Panneerselvam believe that ousting of Sasikala and Dhinakaran is a set up plotted by the deputy general secretary himself.

According to the OPS camp, Dhinakaran aims to claim election symbol 'Two Leaves' from the Election Commission. The 'Two Leaves' symbol has a wide following in Tamil Nadu and Jayalalithaa's legacy can only be claimed if the party gets it back.

For an early and favourable settlement of the poll symbol matter, a united AIADMK should approach the Election Commission. The OPS camp feels that for this solitary purpose, Dhinakaran has, himself, designed his exit from the party so that Panneerselvam can be accommodated in the party.

Once the election symbol matter is resolved favourably, Dhinakaran would be back in the party and Panneerselvam sidelined or expelled, the OPS supporters suspect.

Of the 123 MLAs in the EPS camp about 40 legislators are strong supporters of Dhinakaran.

On the other hand, EPS government is surviving on a fragile majority where even just half-a-dozen MLAs can topple the government if they switch sides.

OPS camp has 12 MLAs and can't bridge the gap if all the Dhinakaran supporters turn against the EPS government.

Under such circumstances, the OPS supporters tell their leader, it is not possible for EPS to act against Dhinakaran.

Under pressure from his supporters, OPS has toughened his stand on merger. Earlier, OPS was happy to be the general secretary of the united AIADMK while EPS could continue to run the government as the Chief Minister.

OPS supporters convinced him that while the Assembly election is still four years away, it would be difficult for him to defend the EPS government in the polls if it faltered on people's expectations.

Further, the OPS camp feels that the MLAs on its side would be insignificant in a united AIADMK if Panneerselvam is not the Chief Minister or does not hold some powerful ministries.

This has led to the rebel camp putting the condition of OPS being made the number-two in the Tamil Nadu government. Such a position to OPS would help him expand his influence in the party and the government to neutralise any future attempt by Dhinakaran to oust him.

The AIADMK leaders are also rattled by some cases being investigated by the central agencies. The Delhi Police is probing a bribery charge against TTV Dhinakaran.

Delhi Police arrested one Chandrashekhar for allegedly trying to bribe Election Commission officials in an attempt to fix a deal for helping the Dhinakaran camp keep the 'Two Leaves' symbol. Chandrashekhar's trail has reportedly linked him with Dhinakaran.

In another case, the Income Tax department earlier raided Health Minister C Vijayabaskar's properties.

The two incidents have made several AIADMK leaders insecure. The OPS camp MLAs don't want to be seen on the other side of the divide. Further, they believe that the BJP wants OPS to be the Tamil Nadu CM.

The OPS camp has floated the idea of forming a third political option in Tamil Nadu. The supporters of Panneerselvam are in favour of snap polls and will be happy if six or more MLAs from the EPS camp switch sides to bring down the government.

The principal Opposition party DMK is no longer led by M Karunanidhi. Many party leaders are sympathetic to MK Alagiri against MK Stalin, who is said to be authoritarian.

The BJP is aggressively attempting to expand its influence in Tamil Nadu and has growing support in the state. This situation suits the OPS camp, which is in favour of stitching an alliance with the BJP. The DMDK and PMK can also be taken along.

Moreover, the supporters of O Panneerselvam argue that OPS would lose his newly found aura if he goes back to the same party. They also calculate that OPS' aura may not last till the next Assembly election if something meaningful is not done before or if he surrenders to the EPS camp before or after the merger.

Source: indiatoday.intoday.in

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