Chennai: When he finally retired to bed just before the crows came awake in the small hours of Saturday, former Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam must have been a much bruised man. It would have been very difficult for the soft-spoken OPS to keep that signature smile of his fixed even as the lieutenants traded foul charges, besides flinging abuse at the Edappadi camp. Worst of all, some of them even bullied and threatened him, saying they would keep away “in dignity” should he insist on going ahead and signing the “shameful merger pact”.
Maintaining his composure, OPS counseled his angry associates to calm down, letting all the main leaders to speak their minds while quickly interjecting with sensible suggestions to sober down on the decibel levels.
It took a lot of effort on the part of the pro-merger section in his group, besides the 'push' given by 'well-meaning friends in Delhi', to get OPS to agree to give up his strong reservation against being Edappadi's deputy after being the CM himself three times.
“OPS is a very mature politician; besides, he is keen that the present AIADMK government must complete its term (till 2021) at any cost. He has agreed to drop his personal hesitation for the sake of the party and also for the stability of the government”, said a senior journalist, who had burnt much midnight oil over the last few weeks toiling to get his “two very good friends” together in the united AIADMK.
The harrowing Friday night behind him, he sounded a little cheerful and a lot more confident, saying: “We can be sure that the two leaders (OPS, EPS) will put all their bitterness aside and move ahead with positive measures to seal the unification rather than allow the wounds to fester and permit the trouble-makers to permeate their mischief”.
Insiders say that former minister R.Vaithilingam, MP will assist CM Palaniswami while former minister K.P. Munusami will be with O. Panneerselvam when the four will draw up the format and composition of the 'Steering Committee' to run the AIADMK and also act as a bridge between the party and the government.
“OPS will be the chairman of this Steering Committee while the CM will be its vice-chairman”, said a source.