With the AIADMK set to announce its Chief Ministerial candidate on October 7, Chief Minister (CM) Edappadi Palaniswami (EPS) has decided to broker a truce with Deputy CM O Panneerselvam (OPS). On Wednesday, EPS is likely to be announced as the CM candidate while as compromise, he agrees for the formation of a steering committee.
AIADMK leaders conducted parleys till 3 am on Wednesday over the matter. Party leaders, including joint convenors KP Munuswamy and Vaithiyalingam, former MP Manoj Pandian, former MLA JCD Prabakar, held talks with Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam at his residence. At the same time, Ministers Dindigul C Sreenivasan, D Jayakumar, SP Velumani and Kamaraj held talks with Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami. After completing the first round of discussions, the AIADMK leaders who were holding talks with Deputy Chief Minister OPS residence came to Chief Minister EPSâ€™s residence and held talks for 45 minutes. The Chief Minister and Ministers continued the discussions for nine consecutive hours and the meeting finally ended by 3 am.
On September 28, in the executive meeting O Panneerselvam pointed out that he was promised that he could be the Chief Ministerial candidate for the next elections. He further added that the steering committee which was part of the agreement for the merger between both factions of the AIADMK, was yet to be formed. As an argument broke out over who had a stronger hold on the party, senior leaders pushed date of the decision.
Speaking to TNM earlier, sources in the party were certain that the CM would not agree to a steering committee. Such a body was compared to a communist poliburo. Several leaders argued that this would create multiple power centres in the party and that this was not the foundation on which the AIADMK was built.
However with OPS standing his ground, the EPS faction seems to have no choice for now. According to sources close to OPS, the Deputy CM is clear that if EPS wants to be the Chief Ministerial candidate, he would have to give up control over the party.
"Currently a steering committee is most likely to be formed. There will be 11 members. The Chief Minister will want six of these members to be nominated from his side and offer the Deputy CM the chance to choose five. There are reports that OPS wants to be the head of the committee," says a source in the party.
Cabinet ministers have been meeting the two senior leaders constantly over the last week to arrive at a consensus. As of now, sources say, EPS will remain the party's candidate for the Chief Minister's post. However, in return, he will have to relinquish part control of the party based on the constitution of the steering committee.