Senior party leader and former Minister D Jayakumar said that a majority of district secretaries and top office-bearers underscored the need for unitary leadership.

Edappadi K Palaniswami and O PaneerselvamFile Photo/PTI
news Politics Wednesday, June 15, 2022 - 13:21

A demand that the party be led by a single leader has emerged again in AIADMK - the main opposition party in Tamil Nadu - on Tuesday, June 14. Senior party leader and former Minister D Jayakumar said that a majority of district secretaries and top office-bearers underscored the need for unitary leadership. “The party would take a decision in the due course on who should lead the party,” he said during a press meet.

Briefing reporters on deliberations at a meeting of district secretaries and senior functionaries, Jayakumar said that nothing was discussed on Tuesday about who should lead the party. The voices pushing for a single leadership comes just about 6 months after the AIADMK amended its bye-laws to strengthen norms to retain the present leadership structure of top two positions held by O Panneerselvam (Coordinator) and Edappadi K Palaniswami (Co-coordinator).

Pointing to 'changing times,' Jayakumar said be it cadres or party functionaries, all of them were for a single leadership. "There is a huge support for it. What happened today was an exchange of views. The single leadership was one of the subjects discussed in a 'healthy' way,” he said.

Led by Panneerselvam (OPS) and Palaniswami (EPS), the consultative meeting was held at the party headquarters 'Puratchi Thalaivar MGR Maaligai.' While the meeting was on, which went on for about four hours, supporters of both the leaders raised slogans outside urging that their respective leaders should lead the party.

Later, a party release said that the meeting steered by the top two leaders revolved around the 'resolutions' to be adopted in the party's general and executive council meetings on June 23, 2022. Since 2019, supporters of EPS and OPS have time and again indulged in 'poster wars', pitching in for their respective leaders. After losing power last year, the AIADMK picked EPS as Leader of Opposition in the Tamil Nadu Assembly and OPS was named Deputy Leader, which yet again demonstrated Palaniswami's clout in the party.

On and off, the question of 'single leadership' for effective functioning of the party has been a contentious point of discussion in the AIADMK after the death of late party supremo J Jayalalithaa in 2016. The AIADMK's Madurai strongman VV Rajan Chellappa had in 2019 batted for a single and charismatic leadership, seen as support for EPS.

When asked if the single leadership matter would be formalised before or on the day of party general and executive council meeting, Jayakumar said 'that is all suspense.' The single leader chorus also comes against the backdrop of an aggressive BJP under the leadership of its state president K Annamalai targeting the DMK regime over several issues. It is also seen as a factor for the AIADMK to assert that it is the main opposition, be it inside or outside the Assembly.

Jayakumar, answering a question, reiterated that VK Sasikala is not a member of the AIADMK and she has absolutely nothing to do with the party, and there was no discussion on her at all in the meeting. His assertion has once again ruled out scope for any truce with her. Sasikala was the confidante of late Chief Minister and AIADMK supremo J Jayalalithaa. Sasikala was chosen as interim general secretary following Jayalalithaa's death in 2016. Subsequently, Sasikala was eased out of the AIADMK.

In March, OPS had said that personally he had respect and admiration for Sasikala and had hailed her as 'Chinnamma'. So far, her efforts to make a comeback in the AIADMK have not succeeded. Recently, a city civil court had upheld a 2017 resolution of the AIADMK, removing Sasikala from the post of interim general secretary.

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