As Tamil Nadu’s AIADMK Leans Towards E Palaniswami, Rival OPS Walks Out

As Tamil Nadu's AIADMK Leans Towards E Palaniswami, Rival OPS Walks Out

The AIADMK General Council meeting was held in Chennai.


The tussle for control of Tamil Nadu’s opposition AIADMK intensified on Thursday, with the party chief O Panneerselvam walking out of a key meeting as senior leaders backed a demand for “single leadership” by rival Edappadi Palaniswami.

As soon as the General Council meeting began amid chaotic scenes of slogan shouting, the process of passage of 23 pre-decided resolutions was taken up.

The first of them was proposed by Mr Panneerselvam known as OPS and seconded by Mr Palaniswami known as EPS, who addressed the former as “brother” in his brief remarks.

However, senior leader Shanmugam, who was recently elected to the Rajya Sabha, announced that all resolutions “are rejected by the General Council”.

Deputy Secretary K P Munusamy said all the GC members have rejected all the 23 proposed resolutions, adding, “Their only demand is for a single leadership.”

Ahead of the meeting, palpable tension prevailed as supporters of Mr Paneerselvam and Mr Palaniswami shouted slogans against one another.

While OPS was the first to enter the venue along with his supporters, EPS made a dramatic entry later when his followers jostled to welcome and take him towards the dais.

The meeting came hours after the Madras High Court restrained the AIADMK General Council from taking any decision on the single leadership formula pushed by EPS.

After a late-night hearing, the court said the party’s highest decision-making body can only adopt the 23 resolutions already listed.

Yesterday, the court had refused to restrain the General Council meeting. This had raised hopes for Mr Palaniswami or EPS, who hopes to get himself elevated as General Secretary of the party.

His rival and present party boss O Panneerselvam or OPS wants the dual leadership format in the party to continue.

Yesterday, in the court, OPS’s lawyers argued that he would not allow any amendment or resolutions at the general council other than the 23 already presented to him.

However, EPS’s lawyers argued that it can’t be guaranteed, as discussions happen based on what the members think.

Trouble started last week after supporters of EPS proposed the idea of a single leadership under him at the district secretaries’ meet.

However, OPS wanted a high-level committee, comprising senior leaders who had worked with party founder MGR and Jayalalithaa, to be constituted to guide the leadership.

He argued, that after Jayalalithaa’s death the party’s general council had evolved the dual leadership model and declared late Jayalalithaa as the party’s eternal general secretary. He added any amendment would be a “betrayal”.

Jayalalithaa had twice hand-picked OPS to be her stand-in Chief Minister when she had to step down following her conviction. Though OPS was elevated for the third time just before she died, Jayalalithaa’s aide VK Sasikala, who briefly took over the party, replaced him with EPS after he rebelled against her.

However, both leaders patched up and expelled Ms Sasikala when she was in jail. OPS became the number one in the party and EPS his deputy. In the government, OPS became Chief Minister EPS’s deputy.

During his four-year term as chief minister, EPS consolidated his position and brought the party under his control.

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