‘Time to work together’: EPS-OPS issue joint statement after day of hectic meetings

The joint statement by the TN CM and Deputy CM came after speculation of a tug of war between the two over who would lead the AIADMK in the 2021 elections.
EPS OPS together with Amma
EPS OPS together with Amma
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On a day when hectic parleys took place within the ruling AIADMK, raising speculation of a tug of war between Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami and Deputy CM O Paneerselvam, the leadership chose to put up a united front.  The AIADMK on Saturday issued a statement jointly in the name of the coordinator OPS and joint coordinator EPS urging party members to maintain ‘military-style’ restraint, similar to what was followed under former Chief Minister Jayalalithaa. The statement warned that action will be initiated against party members who speak about the AIADMK’s affairs in public without the approval of the party leadership.

“In the past few days, the comments made by a few party administrators without any background has led to a topic for debate among others. To avoid such situations from being repeated, we request you all to exercise ‘military-style’ control over your comments and follow the commands of the party leadership, similar to what was in practice during Puratchi Thalaivi Amma’s times,” the statement said. Adding that all the party decisions around alliance and policy decisions will be taken in a democratic manner, the AIADMK urged its workers to not fall for smaller disturbances.

“It is the time for us to work together to ensure that the party and the government work in a manner that is appreciated by everyone,” the statement said, adding that action will be taken on anyone who expresses their personal comment on the party’s stance in any media or platform without the party’s approval.

The statement comes after speculation of a leadership tussle between Edappadi and Paneerselvam over who would be the Chief Ministerial candidate in the 2021 Assembly Election. It also comes on a day when posters surfaced in Theni, Paneerselvam’s hometown, proclaiming OPS as having Jayalalithaa’s blessing. Using the hashtag #2021CMforOPS, the posters also claimed he is the ‘eternal CM of the people’.

Saturday saw back and forth meetings, with a group of 10 senior minister acting as the mediators between the CM and the Deputy CM. The meetings began at the residence of O Panneerselvam in Chennai at around 11am, when at least 10 ministers including SP Velumani, D Jayakumar, KA Sengottaiyan, CV Shanmugam, P Thangamani and Kadambur Raju had a 1.5 hour-long discussion with the Deputy CM. They then went to Palaniswami’s residence for a discussion that lasted around an hour, only to return to Panneerselvam’s house. The last leg of meetings took place at Edappadi Palaniswami’s house, which lasted for around half an hour.

The latest row began when minister KT Rajenthra Balaji tweeted on August 11 stating that Edappadi K Palaniswami will lead the AIADMK in the 2021-Assembly polls in the state. “We will set a goal and meet on the field. We will have Edappadiyar (Edappadi Palaniswami) in the forefront and build a foundation. Let us face the battle, win. 2021 is ours,” he had tweeted in Tamil.

Apart from Rajenthra Balaji, other senior AIADMK ministers like Sellur K Raju, KP Munusamy and RB Udhayakumar had also weighed in on who will be the Chief Minister candidate of the party in the upcoming polls. With a storm brewing within the party, minister D Jayakumar told the media that whatever Rajenthra Balaji expressed was his personal opinion and not the party’s stance.

On August 13, O Panneerselvam took to his official Twitter account to remind party members that it was Jayalalithaa’s dream to win a third consecutive term in Tamil Nadu and urged them to work with a sense of duty and responsibility towards that victory. “Those who live in the path shown by Amma should stand united and walk with integrity. Tomorrow is ours,” he tweeted. These tweets were reportedly considered as his acknowledgement of the murmurs around AIADMK’s Chief Minister candidate in the upcoming polls. 

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