Merger of AIADMK factions just a speculation, says Swamy

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Chennai: In a categorical move aimed at bringing together two warring factions within AIADMK, chief minister Edappadi K Palaniswami and his supporters on Thursday passed a resolution nullifying the appointment of T T V Dhinakaran as deputy general secretary of the party, saying it "violated" the party bylaws. In an effort to drive home the point that only the office bearers appointed by late Jayalalithaa continue to steer the AIADMK, KA Sengottaiyan and Dindigul C.Sreenivasan, who were appointed as presidium chairman and treasurer by Sasikala in February, did not sign the resolution, though they attended the meeting.

The AIADMK split following the death in December of then Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa.

The resolution by the EPS faction comes amidst speculation that a merger with former Chief Minister O Panneerselvam's party AIADMK (PTA) is on the cards. Both the leaders are in New Delhi on Friday for the swearing-in ceremony of Vice President-designate Venkaiah Naidu and are expected to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is said to be intensely pushing for a merger.

Sasikala is a Bengaluru jail after being convicted in a disproportionate assets case, while Dinakaran has been accused of trying to bribe the Election Commission in the battle for the party's "two leaves" symbol. The appointments that he has made have also been deemed invalid. The merger will also add two of Panneerselvam's followers into the council of ministers of Tamil Nadu.

PTI reports that Dhinakaran today warned of "surgical action" against EPS, and rubbished the party statements questioning his appointment as AIADMK deputy general secretary. "Dinakaran has been clearly told he has no powers".

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Former chief minister Panneerselvam had last week said that the leaders in the rival camp were "only making comments" on the unification, but not making much effort.

The AIADMK had 134 MLAs in the 232-member Assembly.

In the Dinakaran camp, the suspicion now is that the BJP has increased pressure on the two factions to merge quickly.

Insiders within the state BJP unit claim that he has given an ultimatum to EPS and OPS factions to announce the merger within August 15, and hold a grand rally when Shah will visit the state in the end of the month.

Formally expelling both Sasikala and Dhinakaran was among the pre-conditions the Panneerselvam camp, which is also holding consultations on the possibility of merger, had made.

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