OPS-EPS Merger on Hold as AIADMK Can’t Shake Off Sasikala’s Kin?

If you had any lingering doubt over whether the Mannargudi family is still in play in AIADMK’s politics, you don’t need to look further than this picture.

In a ‘news report’ published in Namadhu MGR on Monday, the official mouthpiece of the AIADMK, key members of the Sasikala family can be seen along with ministers and senior leaders of the AIADMK’s EPS faction.

The event was the 16th-day death ceremony of TV Mahadevan, Sasikala’s nephew, who died recently.

This could be explained away as a ‘personal event’, but the publishing of the image on the official mouthpiece of the AIADMK has raised eyebrows, since several members of the EPS faction have emphatically stated in the past that they will cut ties with the family.

In the image, Sasikala’s family members Natarajan and Dhivakaran can be clearly seen, along with ministers R Duraikannan, R Kamaraj, OS Manian and Thanjavur district secretary M Rangaswamy.

The caption of the image in the magazine though does not mention either Natarajan or Dhivakaran.

(Photo: The News Minute)

Speaking to The News Minute, a senior leader in the OPS faction asked in response to the image, “Where is the question of keeping the family away? Naturally the family is still calling the shots in the party.”

The publishing of the image further pushes the merger talks between the two AIADMK factions towards failure, given that it was already at the brink of it.

On Sunday, Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami’s statements had given a clear hint at the failing nature of the talks, with him making his stand on the fight for the CM’s post clear.

Palaniswami, while addressing office bearers and cadre in Salem, claimed that 90 percent of the party’s office bearers were with the ‘official faction’ led by him.

There has been little or no official communication between both factions regarding the merger, following the formation of seven member committees by both sides. 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.

The senior leader from the OPS faction said,

EPS’ statement has put a full stop to talks. It looks like a failure. But then merger talks never took off for it to be called a failure. It’s now a question of when talks will be officially called off. It is a matter of days.

TNM had recently reported how several AIADMK insiders believe that the Mannargudi family was still calling the shots. “Look at what is happening. Dhivaharan and Natarajan are the real Mannargudi powers, and TTV’s fall has benefited them. The real Mannargudi is standing up now, they are still in power, and have their links with key ministers,” a source based in Mannargudi told TNM. The recent picture further validated TNM’s story.

There is a strong belief in the OPS camp that only if both the TN CM and AIADMK General Secretary post is given to OPS, the family can be kept away. But the EPS camp doesn’t seem to be relenting. 

With allegations from the DMK that the BJP is backing the OPS faction, it remains to be seen what will happen after the merger talks are officially called off.

(This story was first published in The News Minute and has been republished with permission.)