Palaniswami, Panneerselvam pay tributes at Jaya memorial

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The party split after Panneerselvam opposed the elevation of VK Sasikala as legislature party leader earlier this year.

If that happens and he manages to prevail upon the governor to call for a trust vote, chief minister Edapaddi Palanisami could struggle to cobble up the numbers.

He could bring down this government by asking the 18 dissident MLAs to inform the Governor that they were withdrawing support.

"In the Government, Panneerselvam in most probability will be the Deputy Chief Minister", the leader told IANS on the condition of anonymity.

From re-entry of V Sasikala to Election Commission seizing the election twin leaves symbol of AIADMK, the merger has seen several twists and turns in the past 8 months.

On OPS' main demand of Sasikala's ouster, sources said that a formal announcement on this could come from chief minister Edapaddi Palanisami when he addresses MGR centenary celebrations at Thiruvarur on Saturday evening. Today, a decision taken to sack V.K. Sasikala as the general secretary of the ruling AIADMK party was made.

Both Palaniswami and Panneerselvam reached AIADMK headquarters in Chennai today, shook hands marking the merger of both camps. After party supremo Jayalalitha's demise, a battle for succession broke out between Sasikala and O Pannerselvam leading to Pannerselvam creating his own faction within the party. "We are children of "Puratchi Thalaivi Amma"," averred OPS, describing the occasion as "historical". As OPS has been named coordinator along with Edappadi, these leaders might be accommodated in the party over time.

Meanwhile, party deputy general secretary Dhinakaran held discussions with his supporters in Chennai on Sunday in the backdrop of expectations that the merger may fructify on Monday.

The official said the Palaniswami faction wanted Panneerselvam to not insist on the immediate removal of Sasikala from the party, as they were unsure on the number of MLAs supporting her nephew Dinakaran.

Chief Minister Palaniswami will be the Joint Coordinator.

He was interim chief minister twice when Jayalalithaa stepped down due to cases against her, and then chief minister following her death on December 5, 2016. The former AIADMK chief's niece, Deepa Jayakumar, has not only questioned Palaniswami's decision of a probe into Amma's death but has also opposed the move to convert her residence into a museum.

Palaniswami, too, had said he was confident that "both the factions would merge soon".

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