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RK Nagar bypoll: EPS-OPS faction calls truce; AIADMK parliamentary board to decide candidate

Amid signs of discord, the AIADMK faction's EPS-OPS camp called for a truce on Monday after the seven-member governing council was expanded to nine, CNN-News 18 reported.

A press release from the party said it was "unanimously" resolved in Monday's meeting to authorise the AIADMK parliamentary board to select the candidate for the RK Nagar bypoll. The AIADMK announced it was "restructuring" the parliamentary board, which now includes Chief Minister K Palaniswamy and deputy chief minister O Panneerselvam.

Former ministers KP Munusamy and R Vaithilingam, who is also a Rajya Sabha MP, Madhusudhanan, Tamil Magan Hussein, P Valarmathi, A Justin Selvaraj and P Venugopal are the other members of the board. Earlier, deposed and jailed AIADMK leader VK Sasikala was the head of the board. She had selected her nephew and then AIADMK deputy general secretary TTV Dhinakaran for the 12 April bypoll.

The ruling party also discussed the first death anniversary of J Jayalalithaa and the various events associated with it, the release said. The AIADMK has already announced taking out a procession from the arterial Anna Salai to Jayalalithaa's mausoleum in Marina Beach, which was reiterated in Monday's meeting.

On Sunday, Panneerselvam denied rumours of a row and had stressed on unity in the party and exhorted workers to ensure that 'Amma's' (Jayalalithaa's) rule continues its stride.

In a series of tweets, Panneerselvam praised K Palaniswamy saying he was providing good governance based on the path shown by late chief minister J Jayalalithaa. He, however, chose not to comment on the simmering discontent that came to the fore last week after his loyalist and Rajya Sabha MP V Maitreyan hinted at differences among the leaders of the two factions which merged earlier this year.

Two days ago, in what seemed to be a fresh sign of discord in the ruling AIADMK, loyalists of Panneerselvam had said they did not get an invite for a key party event in which Palaniswamy had participated, PTI reported.

 RK Nagar bypoll: EPS-OPS faction calls truce; AIADMK parliamentary board to decide candidate

File image of Tamil Nadu chief minister E Palaniswamy and deputy chief minister O Panneerselvam. PTI

Significantly, Panneerselvam, who was conspicuous by his absence in the event that was held in Madurai the same day, later batted for unity in the party while taking part in another function along with Palaniswamy.

Recounting a tale of a wrestler narrated by late Jayalalithaa years ago to party workers to underscore the importance of unity among party workers, he said Amma highlighted the importance of unity through that story.

"We have got back our victorious two-leaves symbol as we all stood united following the words of Amma," Panneerselvam said.

Indicating that unity was essential to winning the 21 December RK Nagar bypoll, he had said, "With the same unity, and with the support of people we will script a massive win in the bypoll and dedicate the victory to Amma."

Palaniswamy, who spoke after him in the event to commemorate former chief minister MG Ramachandran's birth centenary, promptly referred to the unity call in his opening remarks.

The chief minister said, "Honourable deputy chief minister O Panneerselvam has articulated good views on staying united." Palaniswamy further said his deputy expressed good views and gave good advice to the party workers.

Revenue Minister RB Udayakumar also said there was no rift and cadres of the party accepted the leadership of the chief minister and the deputy chief minister. "For us, of the two leaves (party symbol), one leaf stood for EPS (K Palaniswamy) and one leaf stood for OPS (O Panneerselvam)," he had told reporters.

"There is no rift or crack in the party and the chief minister and the deputy chief minister are working like a double-barreled gun," he had said. Asked about Panneerselvam not taking part in the Madurai event, he had said they (Palaniswamy and Panneerselvam) are united.

Panneerselvam had to participate in some temple function and hence he could not come to Madurai, the minister said, adding every issue is tackled by both leaders in consultation with others.

The Madurai event, called Mupperum Vizha, (a single event to mark the celebration of three different occasions) had been organised to celebrate the AIADMK getting back its two-leaves symbol, the centenary of party founder MGR and to hail Jayalalithaa. Maithreyan had said in Chennai that proper intimation should have been sent to all party workers, functionaries, and leaders.

Maithreyan, who recently raised the discontent row between Panneerselvam and Palaniswamy factions, said the Madurai event was important since it was the first to celebrate the party getting back its poll symbol.

He said Madurai-based MP Gopalakrishnan and MLA Saravanan, who were in the Panneerselvam camp previously, did not get the invite and added that such "goof-up" should be avoided."I do not know if Panneerselvam was invited, if he was formally apprised about the Madurai event, or if he had any other engagement (at the time of the event)," he told reporters in response to a question.

Maithreyan had said he believed that party coordinator Panneerselvam and co-coordinator Palaniswamy would discuss the issue and "prevent its recurrence".

A party information technology wing functionary and Panneerselvam loyalist, Aspire K Swaminathan, in his Facebook post in Tamil, had also said that there was no invite or information for anyone including the leaders for the Madurai event.

Some publicity material like posters for the Madurai event prominently had the name of Palaniswamiy but not Panneerselvam's.

Earlier, on 23 November, the Election Commission (EC) had announced that the party’s disputed 'two leaves' symbol will now be assigned to the Unified AIADMK faction led by Palaniswamy.The decision had come as a big boost for the EPS-OPS camp as the symbol legitimised their claim to the political legacy of MGR and Jayalalithaa.

With inputs from PTI

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Updated Date: Nov 27, 2017 17:34:37 IST

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