PM's merger idea is goodwill gesture to 'Amma': OPS

By PTI Published on Feb 20, 2018 12:07 PM IST

Madurai (TN): Top ruling AIADMK leader O Panneerselvam clarified his remarks that Narendra Modi nudged for merger of erstwhile party factions, saying the Prime Minister suggested it out of goodwill for late Jayalalithaa and only after his advice was sought.

The clarification by Panneerselvam, the Tamilnadu Deputy Chief Minister, came after opposition DMK latched on to his remarks made in his home town Theni last week and said it only proved the charge that the BJP was driving the ruling AIADMK post-Jayalalithaa's demise.

"I sought Prime Minister's advise on the merger (last year) and he said it was good in the present day context and I only said this at the Theni meeting," he told reporters here.

Panneerselvam also said he told the Prime Minister that sidelined leader TTV Dhinakaran was saying at that time that he would topple the government with the support of his 18 loyalist MLAs (now disqualified) and "I replied yes," he said.

Against the trend of a political party wanting its rival to split so that it could grow, "Prime Minister Modi giving such a view to the AIADMK was because of the goodwill he had for Amma (late chief minister Jayalalithaa)," he said.

"Prime Minister's good intention was reflected in his view," Panneerselvam said seeking to negate the claims of opposition that the Palaniswami and Panneerselvam factions merged only due to the nudging by Modi.

Panneeerselvam had on 16 February told a party workers meet in Theni that he merged his erstwhile faction with that of Chief Minister K Palaniswami-led group, acting on a suggestion from Modi, sparking a political war of words.

DMK Working President M K Stalin said his accusation that Modi and the Centre had been doing 'katta panchayat,' (holding Kangaroo court) in respect of the AIADMK government had been proven right by Panneerselvam's remarks.

While Palaniswami had said he would react after fully going into the comments of his deputy, Fisheries Minister D Jayakumar and other ruling party leaders defended Panneerselvam saying any suggestion for the party's good was welcome.

DMK had been taunting the ruling AIADMK as a proxy of the BJP-led government at the Centre.

Panneerselvam yesterday said there was no implied meaning in the Prime Minister's view and it showed his generosity.

On Opposition parties' charge that BJP was behind the AIADMK, he said "they are doing it for their own political gains."

Even during the R K Nagar bypoll both the AIADMK and BJP contested the election separately, he said. "We are taking the stand what Amma (Jayalalithaa) used to do with regard to other political parties," he said, in an apparent indication to Jayalalithaa and Modi being on good terms.

Giving a background to the merger, Panneerselvam said Palaniswami was the Chief Minister when he had commenced the 'Dharma Yudham,' which was a phrase he coined to denote retrieval of the party from the stewardship of jailed leader V K Sasikala and her nephew Dhinakaran.

Subsequently, he said, due to the "authoritarian" attitude of Dhinakaran they felt that he should be eased out of the party.

Also, around that time and ahead of the merger, a consensus had also evolved among the 1.5 crore cadres favouring the unification, he said.

Cadres felt that the AIADMK's name and symbol which was founded and nurtured by late leaders M G Ramachandran and Jayalalithaa respectively should be retrieved and party factions united.

The AIADMK factions had used separate names in sync with an Election Commission diktat which had barred them from using the party name of AIADMK.