AIADMK merger talks on but Panneerselvam camp is sceptical, bargains hard

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The Edappadi Palanisamy camp has yielded to Panneerselvam's primary demands. Sasikala Natarajan and Dinakaran have been ousted from the party but the speed in which everything happened has made the Panneerselvam camp sceptical. 122 MLAs who had pledged their support to the Mannargudi family changed their stance in less than a week. Within a day of making their plans of merger public, minister Jayakumar announced that Sasikal and Dinakaran would be kept away from the party. The lightening speed with which the Palanisamy camp decided to disown the duo has made Panneerselvam uncomfortable.

Former Tamil Nadu chief minister O Panneerselvam.

The scepticism has now resulted in hard bargaining by the Panneerselvam camp. While he had made no mention of what posts he would want for his team in public and while addressing media, Panneerselvam is now said to be demanding for all top posts. Sources said that even as merger talks are underway, the Panneerselvam camp has sought the posts of chief minister, general secretary and deputy general secretary of the party and at least 2 cabinet berths. The demand has definitely come as heavy for the Edappadi Palanisamy camp.

While they yielded to Panneerselvam's demand of ousting Sasikala, the AIADMK Amma camp does not want to transfer full power to OPS camp. Deputy speaker of Lok Sabha and senior AIADMK leader Thambidurai categorically stated that Palanisamy would continue as the Chief Minister. "One hundred and twenty-two MLAs have supported him and voted for him during the floor test. How can Palanisamy step down? He has the support of all MLAs. There is no question of change in chief minister," he said while addressing the media.

The highlight of the entire drama that is unfolding in Tamil Nadu is that the chief minister has never once addressed the media on his thoughts. Neither on whether he is heading the merger talks nor if he had a role to play in Sasikala and Dinakaran's ouster from the party.

Moreover, the Panneerselvam camp feels that the minister's decision to distance the Mannargudi family could merely be a ploy to unite the party. Sources from the Panneerselvam camp said that they do not rule out the possibility of Dinakaran staging this 'fake revolt' within the camp to convince Panneerselvam to give up his fight and unite with the party. The camp says that it was too fast for its own good. They have also noted the emphasis that AIADMK ministers placed of getting the two leaves symbol back in each of their press briefings when they have spoken about the merger.

Dinakaran's easy exit without putting up a fight has also surprised the Panneerselvam's camp. Despite the scepticism, the talks are on but the hard bargain may become a deterrent for smooth talks. The merger looks like a time-taking process for now.

Thambidurai meets Tamil Nadu Governor

Amidst the political turmoil in Tamil Nadu, deputy speaker of Lok Sabha Thambidurai on Thursday met the state's governor. The senior AIADMK leader met Governor Vidyasagar Rao even as talks between the Edappadi Palanisamy Panneerselvam camps are underway to decide on the Chief Minister's post. Thambidurai termed the meet a 'friendly visit'. Thambidurai said that no politics was discussed during the meeting.

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