Cheni, Aug 21: Six months after a bitter parting of ways following then Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa’s death, the two factions of the AIADMK merged on Monday with rebel leader O. Panneerselvam becoming the Tamil du Deputy Chief Minister and AIADMK Coorditor even as the party decided to sack the now jailed V.K. Sasikala as General Secretary.
Panneerselvam sworn in as TN Deputy CM
Panneerselvam, who was twice Chief Minister when Jayalalithaa was jailed and again after she died in December, also got back his Fince portfolio besides Housing, Rural Housing and Housing Development. He quit as Chief Minister the last time in February after differences with Sasikala, a long-time Jayalalithaa aide.
Immediately after the merger, Pannerselvam was sworn in as Deputy Chief Minister along with his supporter K. Pandiarajan, who was made Minister for Archaeology, Tamil Language and Tamil Culture at a brief ceremony for which Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao flew in from Mumbai. Pandiarajan was earlier the Minister for Higher Education.
With the foe-turned-friend Chief Minister K. Palaniswami by his side, Pannerselvam signed the files at Raj Bhavan.
The merger of the two factions came after weeks of hectic parleys, overcoming the acrimony and last-minute tough conditions set by the Panneerselvam group which insisted on an announcement about Sasikala’s removal. She is now in a Bengaluru jail for corruption.
AIADMK sources said the BJP played a role in the coming together of the two factions though officially that party has denied this. The merged AIADMK is poised to join the NDA and could become a part of the Modi government.
The much-awaited coming together of the two factions was announced at a function at the AIADMK headquarters where Chief Minister Palaniswami disclosed the changes within the party.
The Chief Minister will be the Joint Coorditor while Panneerselvam faction leader K.P. Munuswami and Palaniswami faction leader and MP Vaithyalingam will be the Deputy Coorditors. An 11-member Guidance Committee will steer the merged AIADMK, he said.
Vaithyalingam, who spoke against family rule at the event, announced that the AIADMK General Council will meet soon to remove Sasikala, who was appointed General Secretary by the same body after Jayalalithaa died on December 5 last year. (IANS)