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Follows Close After Venkaiah’s TN Visit

Former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam, who is opposing the ruling faction of the All India Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (Amma) [AIADMK(A)], met Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi on Friday, amid speculation on how his faction will vote in the upcoming presidential elections in the State.OPS MEETS MODIMr. Panneerselvam, when asked a direct question on the issue, said he and his colleagues would formulate a view “only after candidates are announced by both the government and the Opposition.” Sources, however, say Friday’s meeting with Prime Minister Modi, within a week of Information and Broadcasting Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu’s rather warm meeting with Tamil Nadu Chief Minister E. Palaniswamy, would have secured the votes of this faction.

TN’s Concerns

Rajya Sabha MP from Mr. Panneerselvam’s All India Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (Puratchitalaivi Amma) [AIADMK(PTA)] faction, V. Maitreyan, who accompanied Mr. Panneerselvam, told reporters that the delegation that met Prime Minister Modi only discussed issues with regard to Tamil Nadu including getting the State an exemption from NEET, a farm loan waiver and measures to address the water scarcity rather than anything political. “We went in for the meeting at around 5 p.m., we came out at 5.45 p.m. We handed over a memorandum covering various issues affecting Tamil Nadu,” he said.

Earlier in the day, Mr. Panneerselvam held a press conference where he said his faction had handed over a 125-page affidavit to the Election Commission asking that the V.K. Sasikala-led AIADMK(A) faction be barred from using the party office, the party mouthpiece Dr Namadhu MGR and that bank accounts of the party be frozen. “Only I can function as the party treasurer; Dindigul Srinivasan has no right to handle party funds,” he added.

The EC had on March 23 issued an interim order freezing the ‘two leaves’ election symbol of the AIADMK, saying the rival camps could not use the party symbol and name for the R.K. Nagar Assembly by-poll. The by-poll was later cancelled following allegations that money was used to influence votes. A fresh date is yet to be announced.

Expedite Bribery Probe

A request has also been made to expedite the probe against alleged middleman Sukesh Chandrasekhar and AIADMK (Amma) leader T.T.V. Dhinakaran for allegedly trying to bribe EC officials for getting the ‘two-leaves’ for Sasikala faction. On filmstar Rajnikanth’s comments that Tamil Nadu politics was possibly facing a vaccum, Mr. Panneerselvam dismissed an threat to the AIADMK while appreciating Mr. Rajanikanth’s stature “as an artist and a spiritual person.”

On a possible merger of the two factions, former minister K.P. Munusamy said a merger was an easy task only if Ms. Sasikala and her kin were kept at bay.