20 AIADMK Ministers Oust Sasikala, TTV Dhinakaran From Party

  • Sasikala, TTV Dhinakaran removed from AIADMK
  • Teams of senior ministers have been formed for the merger of the two AIADMK factions
  • Panneerselvam welcomed the idea of the merger
  • Several senior ministers met on Monday night to discuss the coming together of the rival factions
  • Delhi Police booked TTV Dhinakaran on charges of bribing EC officials to get the ‘two leaves’ symbol

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Five MLAs including Thanga Tamil Selvan and P Vetrivel arrived at TTV Dhinakaran's residence.

Ahead of the likely merger between OPS and EPS camp, 20 AIADMK ministers have ousted Sasikala, TTV Dhinakaran and her family members from the party on Tuesday.

Speaking to the media, Tamil Nadu’s Finance Minister D Jayakumar said:

Our aim is to keep the party together. The cadres don’t want TTV Dhinakaran to lead the party. To put it bluntly, Sasikala and her family cannot lead the party... We have decided to remove Sasikala, TTV Dhinakaran and his family from AIADMK, a committee will run the party.

However, OPS loyalist C Ponnaiyan said their camp has not been officially intimated of the development.

We do not know directly what has been said. Let talks begin, only then we can comment on the way forward.

KC Palanisamy, Former AIADMK MP from the OPS faction said that it is clear that Sasikala and Dhinakaran should be out of the party. He said that theirs was the true AIADMK and Sasikala and Dhinakaran should not be associated with party directly or indirectly.

O Panneerselvam addressed the media the on Tuesday and listed his conditions on the merger.

His first condition was to start a judicial probe over Jayalalithaa's death. He called the appointment of Sasikala as general secretary illegal.

He also questioned the bribing of voters in RK Nagar and asked for an enquiry in the matter. He also advocated for the dynasty politics to end.

The News Minute reported that the Sasikala camp has proposed a compromise formula. However, sources in the O Panneerselvam camp say that they will not agree to that formula.

According to sources, this is what the Sasikala camp has suggested: They want Sasikala to remain the interim General Secretary of the party. TTV Dhinakaran will step down as the Deputy General Secretary of the party and OPS will become the deputy GS. Cabinet posts will be given to OPS and other senior leaders in the OPS camp like Mafoi Pandiarajan. Edappadi Palanisamy will continue to be the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu.

This formula is not going down well at all with the OPS camp.

Minister for School Education in Tamil Nadu, K Sengottiyan, said that there has been no formal talk between the EPS and OPS faction regarding the merger of the AIADMK. Addressing the media on Tuesday, Sengottiyan, who is from the Sasikala camp, remained silent on whether TTV Dhinakaran will be stepping down as the party deputy general secretary.

However, he said that Dhinakaran had heard the updates and welcomed OPS’ statement.

Tamil Nadu minister, Sellur Raju, said that the core issue for both factions remains the retrieval of the 'two leaves' symbol. In order retrieve it, both factions must work in unison, he said.

Tamil Nadu Forest Minister C Srinivasan also addressed the media and said that he was happy about the merger decision.

Delhi police on Tuesday deferred its Chennai visit. Police said that the probe in Delhi needed to be completed first.

Police have filed an FIR on the basis of audio recording, and they have enough evidence against TTV, says Thanthi, quoting Delhi police sources.

A nine-member team has been formed by the Sasikala camp to speak to the OPS camp, and the team includes leaders like Thangamani, Dindigul Srinivasan, Jayakumar, Vaithilingam, Velumani, PV Shanmugam.

Finance Minister Jayakumar refuses to attach any significance to the MLAs' meet onboard INS Chennai.

Earlier in the morning, responding to Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami's call to party MLAs to pay a visit to INS Chennai, MLAs of the AIADMK Amma faction assembled onboard INS Chennai and INS Sumedha for a 'day at sea' event.

Reacting to rumours that Sasikala has tendered her resignation as party general secretary, Jayakumar said:

We have no information whether Sasikala has resigned as General Secretary.

He said that there was consensus among 123 MLAs to unite both factions.

Speaking to reporters, Tamil Nadu minister Jayakumar said:

We discussed keeping the party united. We need to give affidavits from all districts to the EC about the two-leaves symbol. We discussed that issue at the meeting. The second issue we discussed, like the Deputy Speaker said, OPS gave an opinion that should be welcomed. Regarding that, we discussed how we can take the party forward in a united way.

Hinting at a possible merger, he said:

We appreciate OPS’ offer to merge. We spoke about how to function if we merge. All MLAs and ministers are on the same page. We want to continue Amma’s rule and retrieve two leaves symbol.

He said that by staying together “under Amma’s golden rule”, the party members retrieve the party symbol.

Earlier, the EC had frozen the ‘leaves’ symbol after a tug of war ensued between the two factions of AIADMK.

Tamil Nadu ministers gathered at Thangamani's residence. At least 25 Tamil Nadu ministers hold an emergency meeting.

The Hindu quoted Thangamani as saying:

Those who left (the party) are like our brothers. Such fights are common in families.

Speculations about a patch-up between the two warring AIADMK factions touched a new high on Monday with Chief Minister K Palanisamy calling all lawmakers supporting him on Tuesday.

“The Chief Minister has called all legislators supporting him here on Tuesday in connection with warship INS Chennai function. There will also be a meeting of the legislators,” an AIADMK lawmaker told IANS.

The AIADMK has been divided into two camps soon after its leader and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa's death in December 2016.

Her closest aide, VK Sasikala, was named the new party chief but was jailed within weeks after the Supreme Court found her guilty of corruption.

Before going to jail, Sasikala had appointed her nephew TTV Dhinakaran as the party's Deputy General Secretary.

The Delhi Police on Monday registered an FIR against Dhinakaran and his aide Sukesh Chandrashekar for allegedly attempting to bribe Election Commission officials for a favourable order in the election symbol complaint.

Meanwhile, Panneerselvam on Monday welcomed the idea of a merger of the two factions.

Panneerselvam said talks will be held if somebody comes up with the plan to merge the two factions, adding that their revolt is only against Sasikala and family.

Sukesh Chandrashekhar, who was arrested by the Delhi Police for allegedly taking money from AIADMK leader TTV Dhinakaran to bribe Election Commission officials in getting his party the AIADMK's poll symbol of two leaves, is an accused in several cheating cases.

He is also known as a flamboyant conman with a fetish for luxury cars.

At the age of 27, Chandrashekhar has cases of cheating and illegal money laundering against him in the Enforcement Directorate, the Central Bureau of Investigation, the Chennai Police and the Bengaluru Police, a senior Delhi police officer said.

He claimed that he has known AIADMK Amma leader TTV Dhinakaran for the last four years and had told him that he would get a favourable verdict from the Election Commission (EC) in the party symbol case, the officer said.

Chandrashekhar had allegedly told Dhinakaran that he has contacts in the EC and they will help the Sasikala faction get the AIADMK's poll symbol of two leaves in the by-election to the RK Nagar Assembly seat in Tamil Nadu.

The Delhi Police on Monday booked AIADMK Amma leader TTV Dhinakaran for allegedly trying to bribe an Election Commission official in a failed bid to obtain the coveted "two-leaves" party symbol for his faction.

Police lodged an FIR against Dhinakaran soon after arresting an alleged middleman who, according to police, was purportedly helping the AIADMK leader reach out to an unidentified official in the Election Commission in return for an astounding Rs 50 crore.

No arrest warrant has been issued against Dhinakaran. But police have in their custody Sukesh Chandrasekhar, the alleged middleman who was picked up from a 5-star hotel in New Delhi on Sunday, a senior police official said.

The developments add to the woes of the AIADMK Amma faction, whose leader VK Sasikala – Dhinakaran's aunt – is in a Bengaluru jail in a disproportionate assets case.