EPS holds show of strength after OPS opposes single leadership proposal

The Tiruvannamalai district on Friday witnessed a massive turnout of party workers to welcome EPS, seen as a show of strength amid the ongoing leadership tussle.
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AIADMK Joint Coordinator Edappadi K Palaniswami on Friday held a massive show of strength in northern Tamil Nadu, a day after party colleague and Coordinator O Panneerselvam sought to veto his camp's single leadership proposal. While followers of both Palaniswami (EPS) and Panneerselvam (OPS) were engaged in backroom negotiations to mobilise the support of party functionaries for their respective leaders, parleys continued as well to resolve the bickering well ahead of the June 23 General Council meeting. 

EPS who participated in a string of events in Tiruvannamalai District was accorded a rousing reception by his followers, the district party unit and supporters showered petals on his car and hailed him as the 'future general secretary.' The district witnessed a massive turnout of party workers to welcome him, seen as a show of strength amid the ongoing leadership tussle. Posters addressed EPS as 'party general secretary', a post last held by party supremo J Jayalalithaa who passed away in 2016. Later, the party declared her as the permanent general secretary and formulated an apex dual leadership structure, which is now being challenged by supporters of EPS. 

Addressing a gathering at Polur in Tiruvannamalai, former Minister Agri S S Krishnamoorthy hailed EPS as the AIADMK's 'single leadership', while Palaniswami was standing beside him on the dais. However, EPS did not make any specific reference to the issue and he was given a grand welcome in other regions including Ranipet by his supporters. 

Meanwhile, party veteran and former Lok Sabha Deputy Speaker M Thambidurai, following deliberations with Palaniswami, called on Panneerselvam in Chennai reportedly with a 'plan' to resolve the unitary leadership issue. 

Leaders, including Deputy Coordinator K P Munusamy, have held similar discussions with EPS. Kongu Ilaignar Peravai leader U Thaniyarasu has expressed his support for OPS. 

On June 14, office-bearers belonging to the EPS camp had demanded that the party be led by a single leader as part of efforts to strengthen the party. Apparently, their choice was EPS. 

On Thursday, OPS made it clear that he was not in favour of the proposal and had asserted that no resolution could be brought in in the party meet without the concurrence of the top two leaders - him and his colleague EPS. 

Asked if party functionaries were to rake up the 'single leadership' issue in the General Council meet, AIADMK leader R Vaithilingam (now in the OPS camp) told reporters that both the top two leaders, Panneerselvam and Palaniswami were elected by party's primary members. 

"This cannot be nullified in the General Council meeting by bringing a resolution (favouring a single leadership)," he said. Such a move would not only be invalid, but it shall also lead the party towards its destruction, he said. 

Vaithilingam, a former Minister, said that to move any resolution the concurrence of both the Coordinator and Co-coordinator is a pre-requisite. If any matter was brought up in the absence of the duo's approval, it would be invalid.

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