It has been in the works for months but the two factions of Tamil Nadu's ruling AIADMK have agreed in principle to merge and an announcement may come as early as next week, sources said today. The AIADMK split earlier this year after a power struggle weeks after the death of J Jayalalithaa, former Chief Minister and the party's powerful leader. VK Sasikala, who replaced her as party chief and tried to become chief minister before she was jailed for corruption, may be removed to facilitate the reunion.
1. The faction led by Chief Minister E Palaniswami or EPS met at the party headquarters in Chennai amid speculation that merger talks with the rebel camp of former Chief Minister O Panneerselvam or OPS are in the final stages.
2. At the meeting, it was decided that Ms Sasikala's appointment was "temporary, till the election of a new chief" and her nephew TTV Dinakaran also did not belong to the post of her deputy as it was against the rules.
3. Mr Palaniswami or EPS, and OPS are likely to meet and finalise the reunion next weekend, sources say.
4. The merger talks were propelled by Mr Dinakaran trying to assert his position with a series of appointments. These were "only to cause confusion in the party ranks", decided the EPS faction, underscoring the complete sidelining of the once powerful Ms Sasikala and her nephew.
5. The OPS camp's main condition for a merger was the expulsion of Ms Sasikala and Mr Dinakaran.
6. Both EPS and OPS are headed to Delhi tonight for the swearing in of Venkaiah Naidu as the new Vice President.
7. The role of the central government in brokering a reunion has also been widely speculated. Sources say a united, merged AIADMK - strong against its rival DMK - is desirable for a BJP keen on expanding its base in the south. Both EPS and OPS have been in touch with central leaders.
8. The two camps have been fighting for rights to the party's name and symbol and their dispute is being heard by the Election Commission. Fighting under one symbol will help the party in local body elections due in a few months in Tamil Nadu.
9. The rebel camp also has been demanding both the party chief's post and the Chief Minister's chair for OPS, who was Jayalalithaa's choice for stand-in twice when she had to go to jail.
10. Sasikala, who has laid claim to Ms Jayalalithaa's political legacy, is serving a four-year jail term for corruption. Before going to jail in Bengaluru, she appointed Mr Dinakaran as her deputy and nominated EPS as chief minister.