AIADMK merge: OPS to get party chief, Palaniswami to retain as CM

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Chennai: Tamil Nadu chief minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami may have mentor J. Jayalalithaa's memorial decked up with flowers once again on Monday morning for a formal merger with AIADMK's rival faction led by O. Panneerselvam, his predecessor at Fort St. George.

Talks on the merger of the AIADMK factions are going smoothly & a positive result is expected in a day or two, former CM Panneerselvam said.

The OPS camp has said that for the merger to happen, Mr. O. Panneerselvam has to be made party chief. Senior DMK leader and Rajya Sabha MP T K S Elangovan said the probe was aimed at easing out Sasikala and her family from politics.

It took a lot of effort from the pro-merger section in his group, besides the "push" given by "well-meaning friends in Delhi", to get OPS to agree to give up his strong reservation about being Mr Palaniswami's deputy after being chief minister three times.

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Tamil Nadu acting Governor Vidya Sagar Rao has come down Mumbai since the merger announcement is expected anytime. He was speaking after leaders of the AIADMK (Puratchi Thalaivi Amma) faction led by him met here for informal discussions on the merger issue following last night's inconclusive patch-up bid, and to chart out their future course of action. While Panneerselvam said the talks have moved a step forward and a good decision would be reached shortly. Sources said that chances of OPS being made the deputy CM with finance portfolio were bright but tussle is regarding portfolios for two other leaders of OPS camp. "I am happy to inform you that both the AIADMK factions will merge soon", Mr Palaniswami said.

AIADMK fractured into two following Jayalalithaa's death in December as its chief VK Sasikala tried to appropriate the Chief Ministership from Panneerselvam before her conviction in a corruption case. "Talks are going on smoothly".

Police personnel was deployed in a large number at the memorial with members of the public who wanted to offer their respects to Jayalalithaa fondly called as "Amma" to keep a check on the large public and maintain the decorum of the place. Neither Panneerselvam nor Palaniswamy is even a tad as imperious as Sasikala is or Jayalalithaa was.

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