The rumblings within the AIADMK over who should helm the party intensified on Sunday with O Panneerselvam (OPS) embarking on a tour of southern Tamil Nadu, V K Sasikala asserting that she would address issues and the dominant Edappadi K Palaniswami (EPS) faction calling for a brainstorming meet of top office-bearers on June 27.
Hitting out at the rival EPS camp, AIADMK leader O Panneerselvam today said ‘cadres are on my side’, and asserted that people and party workers would punish his detractors. In another statement, he called the meeting a violation of bylaws and rules as such “meetings could be convened only with the approval of both coordinator and joint coordinator.” “I did not give permission for this meeting. Decisions taken at this meeting will not be binding on the AIADMK and its cadre… since the party is under the administration of the coordinator and joint coordinator,” he said, according to a report by the New Indian Express.
V K Sasikala, confidante of late AIADMK supremo J Jayalalithaa, who was eased out of the party years ago toured northern Tamil Nadu and said she would step in to put the house in order. Her nephew and Amma Makkal Munnettra Kazhagam leader TTV Dhinakaran held consultations with his party workers.
The AIADMK, apparently the dominant EPS camp convened a meeting of top office-bearers on Monday at the party headquarters in Chennai, while OPS, who is the treasurer is away to consult with his supporters. The war of words between the dominant EPS and sidelined OPS factions continued, while the AIADMK’s official Tamil daily (Namadhu Amma), featured only the name of EPS in the founder’s column, on its masthead. Till Saturday, the names of both OPS and EPS appeared.
Embarking on a tour of southern Tamil Nadu after he was sidelined in the June 23 General Council meet, Panneerselvam, popularly known as OPS, was given a grand welcome by his supporters, who gathered in large numbers in several areas in southern Tamil Nadu to accord him a rousing reception. Panneerselvam told reporters here that ‘party workers are on my side.’ OPS, who arrived here today from Chennai, was presented a sword by his followers enroute to his home district of Theni.
BJP office-bearers also welcomed OPS in Theni by presenting him with Saffron shawls. Apparently slamming Palaniswami’s camp for seeking to elbow him out of his position of party Coordinator, Panneerselvam said the people of Tamil Nadu and cadres would teach a fitting lesson and punish those who were behind the ‘web of conspiracy’, and for being responsible for the current ‘extraordinary situation’ in the party.
OPS held consultations in his home turf with his supporters. Wall-posters appeared favouring OPS in Dindigul district. Sasikala, who calls herself the General Secretary told reporters in northern Tiruvallur district that she was anguished by the turn of events in the AIADMK, apparently referring to the spat between the EPS and OPS factions.
She was accorded a warm welcome by her supporters at several locations in Tiruvallur. Her supporters, described her tour of northern Tamil Nadu as ‘Puratchi Payanam’ (Revolutionary Journey). She expressed confidence that she would be able to address all issues within the outfit and recalled that a similar power struggle erupted after party founder M G Ramachandran’s demise in 1987.
“This is our problem,” she said when asked if she would join hands with EPS and OPS who sidelined her from the party. She said it ‘our thought’ to resolve differences among them in the AIADMK. “The party needs to be strengthened. My visit is to meet party workers and the people,” she said when asked on the purpose of her tour.
On the demand for a single leadership and a perception that OPS supported her, she said only party workers could decide on who should lead the party and no ‘individual decision making’ is possible.
The right to pick a leader is vested only with the ordinary party workers and no single office-bearer could change it, she said. If the AIADMK is going to be split, the immediate beneficiary would only be the DMK and the ruling party has a hand in respect of the infighting, she alleged answering a question.
Asked whether she supported EPS or OPS, Sasikala said, “I am the party’s general secretary and my full support is for ordinary party workers and the people.” Days ago, the EPS faction announced that the top two posts of Coordinator (OPS) and Joint Coordinator (EPS) ceased to exist and that Panneerselvam and Palaniswami continued to hold only the posts of treasurer and headquarters secretary.
The AIADMK had said that the General Council would meet again on July 11 and EPS would be made the single, supreme leader. While Panneerselvam loyalist R Vaithilingam claimed that the GC would not meet next month, the EPS side asserted that the meeting would be held as per plan.
With inputs from News18