Merger Done, OPS Is Deputy Chief Minister, Wins Sasikala Point: 10 Facts |

CHENNAI: After a series of false starts, rival factions of Tamil Nadu's ruling AIADMK party finally announced a merger today with Chief Minister E Palaniswami or EPS and his predecessor O Panneerselvam or OPS shaking on it at a joint appearance at the party office. The AIADMK had split months after the death of J Jayalalithaa, the film star-turned-powerful leader who headed both the party and the state government until her death in December. "The burden in my heart is gone. No one can separate us, we are children of Amma (Jayalalithaa), and we are brothers," Mr Panneerselvam said.



Here are the latest developments in this story:
  1. OPS, Ms Jayalalithaa's staunch loyalist and preferred stand-in during her lifetime, will be Deputy Chief Minister with the finance portfolio. He will also take charge of the party as coordinator, helped by a "coordination committee".


  1. As part of the pact, three OPS supporters will be ministers. Maharashtra Governor CH Vidyasagar Rao, who has additional charge of Tamil Nadu, has cleared the appointments.


  1. But there is a conspicuous silence on jailed party chief VK Sasikala, whose removal was a key condition of the OPS camp for a merger.


  1. Sources say the Chief Minister - seen in a recent leaked video falling at Sasikala's feet - was ready to start distancing the party from Sasikala but was reluctant to go further. The OPS camp had been emphatic about an unambiguous and public declaration of Sasikala's expulsion.


  1. Sasikala, a long-time friend of Ms Jayalalithaa, took control of the party after her death and soon angled for the Chief Minister's post, forcing the resignation of OPS, who then rebelled. Sasikala's plans crashed when she was sentenced to a four-year jail term for corruption. Before going to jail, she named EPS as the new Chief Minister and her nephew, TTV Dhinakaran, the AIADMK's number No 2.


  1. Mr Dhinakaran, who has been sidelined to facilitate the merger, has been trying to rally his supporters for a fightback and even met his aunt in jail last week. As OPS and EPS struggled to seal their merger, 17 lawmakers went to his home in what turned out to be a show of strength.


  1. On Friday evening, party members waited for hours at the beachside memorial at Chennai of Ms Jayalalithaa but the merger fell through despite the Chief Minister agreeing to a demand for an investigation into how she died.


  1. Sources have told NDTV that if the merged team approaches the Election Commission and the factions withdraw their earlier petitions claiming the party's "two leaves symbol", the poll body may decide on re-allotting the symbol to the AIADMK.


  1. Mr Palaniswami and Mr Panneerselvam's separate meetings with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Delhi recently were seen to be the propellant for a merger.


  1. The BJP is believed to be heavily invested in a reunited AIADMK as it tries to gain political space in Tamil Nadu, which has always oscillated between the regional rivals AIADMK and DMK.



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