A heated discussion dominated the AIADMK's executive committee meeting on Monday, with Chief Minister (CM) Edappadi Palaniswami and Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam both presenting arguments as to why they deserved to be the face of the party for the upcoming state assembly elections.The discussions inevitably involved former AIADMK general secretary VK Sasiklaa, who is set to be released anytime from jail and her role in the rise of both leaders.
Five hours after the meeting began, party leader E Madhusudhanan told the media that a final decision on the CM candidate will be announced on October 7.
Speaking to TNM, sources from the party reveal that CM Edappadi Palaniswami (EPS) used his leadership during the pandemic and the praise he has received from the Prime Minister as an argument to become the party's candidate. Deputy CM O Paneerselvam (OPS) however claimed that while he was chosen by former CM Jayalalithaa to be the CM, EPS was appointed to the post by VS Sasikala.
"His argument was that he was more deserving of the post because he was chosen by the former CM. To this, EPS said that we were all chosen by the same person and you know that. He didn't mention the name but he was referring to Chinnamma," says the AIADMK sources.
According to leaders in the know of the committee proceedings, powerful leaders including Electricity minister Thangamani and Municipal administration minister Velumani remained neutral during the proceeding and merely helped with negotiations. Sources however indicate that the discussion was tilted in favour of CM EPS remaining the face of the party.
OPS argued that he had not signed up to remain Deputy CM if another government was to be formed as well. However, he found very little support amongst members of the committee, say sources.
As for the ten day delay in the announcement of the candidate, a simple explanation was offered.
"October 7 is an auspicious day," says the AIADMK leader.