Palaniswamy and O. Panneerselvam merge despite differences

Chennai: Tamil Nadu Chief Minister K. Palaniswamy and his predecessor O. Panneerselvam reached the AIADMK headquarters here on Monday, taking the most decisive step in the merger of the two factions of the party that split after J. Jayalalithaa died.

Hectic parleys preceded the arrival of the two leaders at the party office, to sort out the last-minute differences that were delaying the merger. 

Two senior ministers and a senior MP who are supporters of the Chief Minister went to Panneerselvam's residence on Monday with a draft of the deal worked out between the two sides.

Panneerselvam was received enthusiastically at the party headquarters by AIADMK cadres who presented him stoles and bouquets. It was his first visit to the office after six months. 

Hundreds celebrated the occasion by bursting firecrackers.

Panneerselvam was accompanied by his faction leaders including K.P. Munuswamy and K. Pandiarajan. 

Before his arrival, Chief Minister Palaniswamy held discussions with his colleagues including ministers K.A. Sengottaiyan and D. Jayakumar. 

There are indications that the two leaders may come out with a joint statement soon.

Panneerselvam has demanded the expulsion of the now jailed Jayalalithaa aide V.K. Sasikala before a merger takes place.

Governor Ch. Vidyasagar Rao arrived here on Monday afternoon for a possible swearing in ceremony in which Panneerselvam and some of his faction leaders may be sworn in as ministers.

Panneerselvam, who was thrice Chief Minister, may get the Deputy Chief Minister's post. 

Meanwhile, the faction headed by T.T.V. Dinakaran, Sasikala's nephew, has warned against his own and Sasikala's sacking as Deputy General Secretary and General Secretary of the AIADMK. Dinakaran is said to enjoy the support of a dozen MLAs.