Tamil Nadu's ruling AIADMK has decided that its jailed chief VK Sasikala and her nephew TTV Dinakaran will be "kept away from the government and the party" to enable a merger with the rival faction led by former Chief Minister O Panneerselvam or OPS.
Though that meets a big demand by OPS, the two factions are yet to find common ground on who should be chief minister. Chief Minister E Palaniswami, who was handpicked by Ms Sasikala but is now ready to dump her, wants to keep the post but OPS supporters say he should be Chief Minister as well as party chief.
Amid moves to sideline him, Mr Dinakaran rushed back from Bengaluru without meeting his aunt as he had intended and called a meeting of legislators at the AIADMK headquarters in Chennai.
"All MLAs are with us only. There is no revolt against me," Mr Dinakaran said today.
Sasikala, who is in prison in Bengaluru, heads the larger team that controls the government. She will continue to lead the party on paper, since the Election Commission is examining the legality of her appointment. An expulsion will be possible only after the Commission comes to a decision, sources said.
"Dinakaran and his family will be away from AIADMK and its government. The decision is unanimous and based on the views of all ministers including Chief Minister, MLAs, MPs, public," said minister D Jayakumar after a meeting held at the Chief Minister's home last evening.
Sasikala, a long-time companion of J Jayalalithaa, took control of the AIADMK after the former Chief Minister died in December.
When Sasikala tried to become Chief Minister, Mr Panneerselvam, who was head of the government, refused to quit. Ms Sasikala's political plans took a big hit when the Supreme Court in February sentenced her to jail for corruption.
Sasikala then installed Mr Palaniswami as Chief Minister and made her nephew Dinakaran the party No 2, keeping the rank of party chief for herself.
Ministers and AIADMK lawmakers from Sasikala's group - the one that's governing Tamil Nadu - have rebelled after multiple corruption charges against Mr Dinakaran, which they fear are hurting the party.
A lookout notice has been put out against Dinakaran as the police is worried he may try to escape.