CHENNAI: Finally, it turned out to be an anti-climax. The much-awaited merger of OPS and EPS camps of the AIADMK, which was speculated to happen at the J. Jayallithaa memorial on Marina beach on Friday night, failed to take place due to divisions in the faction led by former chief minister O. Panneerselvam. On a day of twists, turns and fast-faced developments, it was back to square one as senior leaders of the OPS faction – K. P. Munusamy, V. Maitreyan, Manoj Pandian and ‘Natham’ Viswanathan – opposing the merger plans as they argued that “people and cadre are with us” and that there was no need for an unification.
“These four leaders opposed the merger tooth and nail saying there should be no forward movement till the time Sasikala is removed from the party. They argued that only if Sasikala is removed from the party, their ‘dharma yudham’ will come to a logical conclusion,” a senior leader of the OPS team said. A day after Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami announced an inquiry into the death of J. Jayalalithaa, the teams were set to merge on Friday or at least announce their coming together. However, things went haywire at the meeting where heated arguments flew thick and fast against and for the merger. Sources said the “selfish interests” of a few leaders derailed the process and that they were trying to pacify them.
“OPS will announce the decision of the faction. We hope he will take the right decision,” senior leaders E. Madhusudhanan and C. Ponnaiyan told reporters after four-hour-long meeting at the Greenways Road residence of the former chief minister. Their announcement gave clear indication that there was no consensus on the merger within the camp. As the media waited outside his residence, a member of the OPS’ media team announced that there would be no “press conference” while apologizing to journalists for making them “wait for long.”
As Panneerselvam began meeting his colleagues at 5 pm, Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami was also closeted with his senior cabinet colleagues at his residence though his office sent out a message that he would visit “amma samadhi” at around 7.30 pm. Soon, the memorial was decorated with flowers and a security team of the CM arrived with even wreaths in place for the CM to place it before the memorial. Immediately, news spread that Panneerselvam would also come to the memorial where he along with Palaniswami will announce the merger jointly. Sources said the CM’s convoy was kept ready to ensure that he reaches the Marina beach on time. But he cancelled his plans, sources said, after the OPS team conveyed to their managers that there was no consensus in the meeting and that they would need “more time.”