Tamil Nadu CM E Palaniswami and former CM O Panneerselvam on Monday announced their unification of the OPS-EPS faction, with OPS going on to be sworn in as the new Deputy CM. According to party officials, the cabinet of the Tamil Nadu assembly will be reshuffled and members of the OPS faction will be given Cabinet berths. Governor CV Rao administered the oath to Panneerselvam. Rao is also the Governor of Maharashtra and flew in from Mumbai hours before the swearing-in ceremony. The Governor had also canceled all his meetings and commitments in Mumbai. The faction headed by CM Palaniswami is expected to pass a resolution against AIADMK General Secretary VK Sasikala.
Here is a timeline of events that took place in last few months:
December 7, 2016: Following the demise of J Jayalaltitha, senior party leader O Panneerselvam took oath as the new CM of Tamil Nadu at the Raj Bhawan in presence of Governor Vidyasagar Rao and other party leaders.
December 29, 2016: Amma’s close aide V K Sasikala was appointed as AIADMK’s general secretary in an unanimous resolution adopted by the party’s general council meeting. Sasikala accepted the post after meeting Panneerselvam at Poes Garden.
February 5, 2017: Just two months after swearing-in as the CM, Panneerselvam resigned from his duties potentially paving way for V K Sasikala to take over the role. In his resignation, OPS cited “personal reasons” for his decision. Two days later, on February 7, Pannerselvam revolted against Sasikala and said he was forced to resign from the post. He further added that if the party workers wish for him to remain as their CM, he will take back his resignation. In retaliation, Sasikala sacked OPS from the post of treasurer. She went on to call him a “traitor”, and said it was her responsibility to bring an end to Panneerselvam’s “wrongdoings”.
February 7, 2017: OPS meditates at Jayalalithaa’s burial place, announces revolt against Sasikala.
February 10, 2016: Following the chaos, Rao asked both the factions to prove majority. The Sasikala camp moved 100 of the AIADMK MLAs to Golden Bay Resort in Koovathur in a bid to stop them from being poached. It was alleged that the MLAs were “locked up.” After news broke out about Sasikala’s conviction, the situation in the AIADMK ruling camp turned tense.
February 16, 2016: Supreme court convicted Sasikala in the disproportionate assets case which ended her chance to become the CM. Two days after her conviction on February 18, Edappadi K Palaniswami was sworn in as Chief Minister, a decision which left the OPS camp disappointed. EPS on February 20 also won the trust vote in the Tamil Nadu Assembly with 122 MLAs voting for him.
March 22, 2017: With the bypoll for vacant R K Nagar constituency approaching, both the factions staked claim for the party’s “two leaves” symbol. On March 22, Election Commission froze the party symbol recognizing the split in the party. Amid allegations of both camps bribing the voters, the election body “cancelled” R K Nagar bypoll election slated for April 10.
April 17, 2017: AIADMK General Secretary TTV Dinakaran was booked in an alleged bribery case by the Delhi Crime Branch. Dinakaran who is also the nephew of Sasikala was accused of bribing the Election Commission officials to have the rights on the party’s two leaves symbol. Dinakaran was arrested late in the night on April 26, four days after questioning him in the national capital. He was granted bail by a Delhi court on June 1.
April 18, 2017: With TTV Dinakaran facing charges of bribery, the OPS and EPS faction initiated merger talks. Around 25 ministers held an emergency meeting to discuss the possible merger. One of the major condition for OPS faction for a merger was the expulsion of Sasikala and Dinakaran from the party, an issue which derailed the talks.
August 2017: EPS on August 11 said that TTV Dinakaran’s role as the party’s deputy genral secretary was “not acceptable”, thus paving the way for a possible merger between the two factions. Party leaders from both the factions held multiple meetings after which the OPS-EPS united and Panneerselvam took oath as the Deputy CM on August 21, 2017.