Jayalalithaa memorial decked up ahead of possible AIADMK merger
Even as a big announcement on the merger of two AIADMK factions is expected, the Jayalalithaa memorial at Marina beach in Chennai was all decked up. Massive floral arrangements were made at the memorial fueling speculations of O Panneerselvam and Edappadi Palanisamy camps finally merging on Friday evening. While an announcement was expected by 7.30 PM, discussions extended till late Friday night.
Officials of the public works department decorated the memorial out of the blue, building suspense over the meeting that was underway under O Panneerselvam's leadership. By late evening AIADMK cadres started gathering near the memorial as well as the party headquarters anticipating a merger. With a delay in announcement from both camps, scores of people who had gathered at the memorial started to disperse owing to heavy rains.
Speculations are rife that Panneerselvam could be made the chief of the party while Edappadi Palanisamy will continue as the Cheif Minister. Panneerselvam's loyalists are likely to be accommodated into the Tamil Nadu cabinet in plump posts like Finance and Industries. With leaders like Pandiarajan and Madhusudhanan leaving the meeting led by Panneerselvam early, a sense of all not being well settled in.
Chief Minister Edappadi Palanisamy too held marathon meetings with ministers and his supporters. While Palanisamy seemed eager about the merger, all did not seem well in the Panneerselvam camp. Party insiders suggested that disagreements marred Panneerselvam camp's meeting with all senior members demanding ministerial berths.
The Jayalalithaa memorial is of great significance to Tamil Nadu politics. This was the place that O Panneerselvam visited and meditated before rebelling against Sasikala Natarajan in February earlier this year. An image of a meditating Panneerselvam became a milestone in Tamil Nadu political history.