In what is being seen as a setback for AIADMK’s No. 2, former Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami, the Madras High Court has restrained the party’s general council to be held today from taking any decision on the single leadership formula he has been pushing.
The party’s highest decision-making body can only adopt the 23 resolutions already listed, the division bench ruled in an interim order after a late-night hearing.
One of the petitioners had appealed against the court’s order yesterday, which had refused to pass such a ruling. He has challenged the party’s internal elections, and he wants no decisions on leadership taken before his case is settled.
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.
Another member of the general council sought a stay on the meet, saying its agenda hasn’t been shared.
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.
Speaking to NDTV, senior leader and former Minister D Jayakumar said, “The rank and file of the party want EPS to be the General Secretary. We will move a resolution.”
He denied that the move could trigger a split in the party and said singular leadership was “the need of the hour”.
There was a celebration with firecrackers at OPS’s residence after this development. A leader close to him said, “OPS will attend the meeting.”
The meeting venue at Vanagaram, just outside Chennai, has come under police control as OPS apprehended violence and the court ordered police security.