Chennai: Like the lazy swinging pendulum, Friday found the changing moods of the merger negotiators in the rival AIADMK camps pointing towards gloom.
There was all-round exuberance and optimism less than 24 hours ago as seniors in both the groups predicted smooth sailing, but the smiles suddenly evaporated post-dawn.
S Semmalai from the OPS camp held a meeting of his Salem district functionaries to discuss the merger.
“Most of the members who attended opposed the merger, demanding to know why we have to join hands with them (Edappadi group) when our camp is getting stronger and the people are with us”, said Semmalai. “We will convey this to our leader (OPS) but we will abide by his decision”.
The Salem session struck out harshly at the rival camp, even passing a resolution accusing Chief Minister Edappadi Palanisamy and company of ‘orchestrating’ the merger ‘drama’ at the behest of Sasikala and her clan “only to safeguard their ill-gotten wealth”.
Semmalai’s meeting also reiterated the two pre-conditions for starting the negotiations — ejection of the Sasikala clan from the party and asking the Centre to order CBI probe into Jayalalithaa’s death. Edappadi’s finance minister D. Jayakumar, a member of his talk-team, said the OPS camp had not responded to the positive initiatives taken by the ruling camp.
“Our team leader R. Vaithilingam spoke to their team leader K. P. Munusamy over phone and told him we are all set for the talks. They said they would come but have not made any more towards that”, he told Deccan Chronicle. “We want the talks to be held in a transparent manner. They (OPS) must realise that if we procrastinate, our rivals (DMK) will take advantage and that could hurt the party founded by MGR and protected by Amma”, said Jayakumar, who has been a strong critic of OPS and his group all these days.
“What’s the point in making such futile claims, of being ready for talks, when they continue to ignore our two basic demands?” asked OPS’s chief spokesman Munusamy.
The mood in the OPS camp, insiders say, is one of anger and despair at the “continued influence wielded by Sasikala-Dhinakaran clan over the Edappadi group”, despite the tough time the two ‘leaders’ are facing at the hands of law enforcers.
As if to lend credence to such distrust, Dhinakaran-loyalist Nanjil Sampath came out with his signature punchline during the humid day, declaring there would be no merger talks unless OPS and Mafoi Pandiarajan “are thrown out”.