AIADMK factions seal deal, OPS sworn in as deputy CM

The two factions of the All-India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) led by chief minster E Palaniswami and former chief minister and Jayalilathaa confidant O Panneerselvam today officially sealed a merger with Panneerselvam being made deputy chief minister and convener of the party. Palaniswami will be the co-convener.

The warring factions announced a united party, sidelining V K Sasikala as well as her appointee TTV Dinakaran.

While Palaniswami will retain chief ministership, an 11-member coordination committee will lead the party.

Jayalilathaa's death led to a power struggle in the party during which the all-powerful Sasikala group claimed majority support and removed O Panneerselvam who was the interim chief minister, when Amma was in the hospital, from power and appointed Palaniswami in his place.

Sasikala also brought in her nephew TTV Dinakaran into the party who was suspended by Amma back in 2011.

But in an end game for Sasikala, who is undergoing a jail term over ill gotten wealth, the rival factions agreed on a compromise merger with an 11-member  co-ordination committee headed by OPS and three senior party leaders as co-conveners for the party.

Panneerselvam has been given the finance portfolio and made deputy CM. The swearing-in took place at 4.30 pm today.

On Friday night, party MLAs had gathered at Jayalalithaa's memorial on the beachside, but a merger failed to materialise because of some unresolved demands.

One of the key conditions that Panneerselvam's camp laid down for the merger was the expulsion of Sasikala, who had handled the reigns of the party.

TTV Dinakaran, Sasikala's nephew, whose post in the party is threatened, had been rallying his supporters to put up a fight. He even went and met Sasikala in jail.

Reports say that possibly after the merger, it will be decided who will be the signing authority and whether OPS will return as AIADMK general secretary.

The party is likely to approach the Election Commission to withdraw rival petitions and jointly seek the "two-leaves symbol" as the AIADMK party symbol, according to an NDTV report.

The Modi government had been reportedly trying to reunite the two factions. Before the merger, Edappadi Palaniswami and O Panneerselvam had individually met Prime Minister Narendra Modi.