Finance Minister Jayakumar blamed DMK for trying to create internal fights within the party.

Whats holding up talks between EPS and OPS The air is thick with suspicion and anger
news Politics Saturday, April 29, 2017 - 18:48

The two AIADMK factions are yet to come out with any decisive plans for a merger but they continue to be united in their attempt to target arch-rival, the DMK. Finance Minister D Jayakumar, told the media on Saturday that the DMK is trying to create internal fights within the party.

However, he did, let slip that members of the former Chief Minister O Panneerselvam led camp have not come for talks despite repeated invitations.

This statement from the minister comes at a time when talks with the OPS camp have hit a roadblock. Team OPS is reportedly suspicious over who is really calling the shots for a merger and believe it could be a ruse to claim the two leaves symbol that has presently been frozen by the Election Commission.

To add fuel to this burning doubt, was Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami who met with AIADMK district secretaries over three days –Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday – asking them to submit affidavits to the Election Commission in support of the appointment of VK Sasikala and TTV Dhinakaran.

The OPS faction, however, dismissed the meetings as a non-factor in connection to merger talks. Senior AIADMK leader, Ponnaiyan, who supports former Chief Minister O Panneerselvam said, “Talks for a merger is different and the fight for the two leaves symbol is different. It makes no sense to link the two issues together.

The Election Commission is presently hearing two cases – one on the validity of VK Sasikala’s appointment as AIADMK General Secretary and the other on the two leaves symbol, which both warring factions have claimed. Ponnaiyan added that the two leaves symbol case will not even exist if the two sides decide to merge.

Despite these assurances, however, talks between the OPS and EPS factions have not formally begun. This, even after both sides formed a seven-member committee to take the process further. The former CM’s side has insisted that talks could not proceed without a CBI probe being announced into the death of late CM Jayalalithaa as well as the ouster of Sasikala and her family. However, the ruling faction has maintained over the last few days that Sasikala and Dhinakaran have been sidelined from the party and government affairs. 

Meanwhile, speculation has been mounting that merger talks were on the verge of a collapse.  A scheduled press meet for 11.30 am on Saturdayby the OPS faction that was expected to provide an ultimatum to the ruling camp, was initially postponed to 2pm and then finally cancelled.

"We are working on reconciliation,” said a leader in the OPS faction, when asked about progress in talks. “The press meet that was cancelled today is now scheduled for Monday,” he added.

Back channels talks between the two factions continue. A major hurdle, however, comes in the form of the fight for the CM’s post. Both OPS and EPS are, according to sources, staking claim to the chair. As reported by TNM last week, one of the formulas proposed was that Palaniswami remain CM while OPS would be given the post of General Secretary in the party together with the Finance portfolio. However, some of the hardliners in the OPS camp were unhappy with the formula and wanted him to be made General Secretary and Chief Minister.

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