TNM has learnt that m​any party functionaries and senior AIADMK leaders have been meeting EPS and have been extending their support to him, urging them to take over leadership of the party.

Stalemate continues in AIADMK over leadership decision EPS and OPS refuse to budge
news Politics Sunday, June 19, 2022 - 19:22

The stalemate over the leadership issue between E Palaniswami and O Panneerselvam continues even as party leaders are in hectic parleys in the hope of reaching a resolution before the AIADMK general council meeting on June 23. Ever since the demand for a ‘single leadership’ at the helm of the AIADMK was raised in the party, OPS and EPS have remained firm and have refused to give up the top spot. A party cadre was left injured on Saturday, June 18, when members of the two warring factions clashed. 

The OPS and EPS factions are keen that their leader emerges as the single leader of the party. While the post of the opposition leader was given to E Palaniswami, the party Chief Co-ordinator's post has been with O Panneerselvam. The party has been under dual leadership and several leaders have criticized this arrangement stating that AIADMK has lost its fighting spirit due to this.

Many party functionaries and senior AIADMK leaders have been meeting EPS  and have been extending their support to him, urging them to take over the leadership of the party. A senior AIADMK leader told TNM that according to him, EPS thinks that this is the right time to take over the party as more party functionaries are backing him. 

However, OPS does not want to give up the top post. He has openly rejected any talk of a single leadership. Though there are attempts being made to convince him, he has remained firm. Now, the senior leader says, the only solution is to defer general council elections or drop the single leadership demand. If the AIADMK chooses to remove OPS or pass a resolution naming EPS as the head of AIADMK, the party stands at risk of yet another split, and the party does not want that to happen.

Aiming to ensure cordiality among the top leaders, party senior leader and former Minister K Sengottaiyan initiated a dialogue with AIADMK coordinator O Panneerselvam. Another party leader said that the AIADMK aims to retain its two leaves symbol and also keep the nearly 1.5 crore cadre united.

Sengottaiyan had earlier held a consultation with EPS whose supporters have been demanding a unitary leadership under him after disbanding the dual leadership posts which the party approved following the merger of the factions led by Palaniswami and Panneerselvam after J Jayalalithaa's demise. The Panneerselvam camp has been supporting the present set up of dual leadership.

Emphasising the need for a cordial atmosphere in the Dravidian party, former State Minister B Valarmathi said letters signed by both Panneerselvam and Palaniswami were sent to the members to attend the general council on June 23. Asked if there is any threat to the party, especially an imminent split over the leadership crisis, she replied, "A few leaders are publicising their views on leadership. If the party is to survive, the leaders and cadres should remain united.”

In Madurai, another leader, VV Rajan Chellappa appealed to Panneerselvam to pave way for the latter to take up the reins of the party based on his performance as Chief Minister. "You or I can't decide who should be the leader. Jayakumar is not the deciding authority.”

Jayakumar was the one who first spoke about the single leadership demand among the party cadre. 

Panneerselvam, meanwhile, told PTTV that the person who raised the demand should be the one to resolve the issue. "The comment (about single leadership) was expressed at a district secretary meeting and it should have been discussed at the headquarters or at a functionaries meeting. But it was openly said in a press meet and the ruckus is the result of that press meet,” OPS said, speaking about Jayakumar’s press meet.

Jayakumar, meanwhile, said he has not revealed any secrets. "It is usual for district secretaries to express their views at the meeting. I merely conveyed to you (media) what was spoken in the party on unitary leadership and have not revealed any secret," Jayakumar told reporters. 

On former Minister R Vaithialingam's remark that no resolution favouring unitary leadership was finalised, Jayakumar said it was for the party to decide. "The 12-member committee on resolution gave a final shape to the resolutions to be passed on June 23. The general council meeting will happen as scheduled," Jayakumar said.

The nearly 2,600-member strong general council of which both Panneerselvam and Palaniswami are members is the highest decision-making body in the AIADMK. According to a source in the party, majority of cadres do not relish the idea of reviving the general secretary post held by late Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa.

"In the event of a special resolution being moved at the meeting with the consent of the praesidium chairman, and approved by a majority, the party is likely to retain only one post which could be the coordinator or it could be aptly renamed," a leader told PTI.

With PTI inputs

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