CHENNAI, Aug 21 - Six months after a bitter parting of ways following then Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa�s death, the two factions of the AIADMK merged on Monday with rebel leader O Panneerselvam becoming the Tamil Nadu Deputy Chief Minister and AIADMK Coordinator even as the party decided to sack the now jailed VK Sasikala as general secretary.
Panneerselvam, who was twice Chief Minister when Jayalalithaa was jailed and again after she died in December, also got back his Finance portfolio besides Housing, Rural Housing and Housing Development. He quit as Chief Minister the last time in February after differences with Sasikala, a long-time Jayalalithaa aide.
Immediately after the merger, Panneerselvam was sworn in as Deputy Chief Minister along with his supporter K Pandiarajan, who was made Minister for Archaeology, Tamil Language and Tamil Culture at a brief ceremony for which Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao flew in from Mumbai. Pandiarajan was earlier the Minister for Higher Education.
With the foe-turned-friend Chief Minister K Palaniswami by his side, Pannerselvam signed the files at Raj Bhavan.
The merger of the two factions came after weeks of hectic parleys, overcoming the acrimony and last-minute tough conditions set by the Panneerselvam group which insisted on an announcement about Sasikala�s removal. She is now in a Bengaluru jail for corruption.
AIADMK sources said the BJP played a role in the coming together of the two factions though officially that party has denied this. The merged AIADMK is poised to join the NDA and could become a part of the Modi government.
The much-awaited coming together of the two factions was announced at a function at the AIADMK headquarters where Chief Minister Palaniswami disclosed the changes within the party.
The Chief Minister will be the Joint Coordinator while Panneerselvam faction leader KP Munuswami and Palaniswami faction leader and MP Vaithyalingam will be the Deputy Coordinators. An 11-member Guidance Committee will steer the merged AIADMK, he said. � IANS