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AIADMK general council meet reflects a precarious power balance

The turmoil within the AIADMK is unlikely to affect governance, unless MLAs in the TTV Dinakaran camp quit

editorials Updated: Sep 12, 2017 19:02 IST
Hindustan Times
AIADMK,eternal general secretary,Jayalalithaa
Tamil Nadu chief minister Edappadi K Palaniswami (R) and deputy chief minister O Panneerselvam (File Photo)(PTI)

In yet another twist to the AIADMK succession saga, at a hastily called general council meeting on Tuesday, the EPS-OPS combine expelled general secretary VK Sasikala from the party. The expulsion nullified all the decisions she had taken as general secretary, the most important being the appointment of her nephew TTV Dinakaran as deputy general secretary. The post of the general secretary was abolished and Jayalalithaa was named “Eternal General Secretary’. The powers of the general secretary was divided between two new positions, convenor and joint convenor. Deputy chief minister O Panneerselvam was appointed convenor and chief minister Edappadi Palaniswami the joint convenor.

The general council meeting held at Vanagaram, Chennai, saw about 95% of the members attending, and this in itself is a major boost to the EPS-OPS combine. This also shows that the AIADMK legislative party is predominantly with the ruling faction within the party.

Tuesday’s meet will bring stability to the party — at least for the time being. This is because the TTV faction has rubbished the resolutions taken at the meet. The TTV faction is also exploring legal options to counter the EPS-OPS combine. TTV has the support of at least 14 MLAs — enough to rock the AIADMK government. But that is a move he is unlikely to make.

On September 14, Thursday, the assembly Speaker is expected to meet the 14 MLAs. A decision if taken then could be decisive. Later, the court will decide the validity of Tuesday’s decision. Given these developments, there is a period of uncertainty which could favour either faction.

The creation of a post of an ‘Eternal General Secretary’ is an absurdity even by the often farcical standard of politics, especially Dravidian politics. While she was the CM, Jayalalithaa was called by her party members as ‘Niranthara Muthalamaichar’ (Eternal Chief Minister). Given this, the transition from eternal CM to eternal general secretary would appear natural. But this should not be mistaken for sycophancy, displayed in abundance while she was alive. This reflects the reality that both OPS and EPS are using her legacy as crutches to support their political ambitions. It is indicative of the thin support base of both EPS and OPS in the party.

If political prudence stops TTV from pulling down the government, it’s political necessity that holds the EPS-OPS combine. The precarious balancing done by the two leaders by sharing power in the government and party is indicative of how suspicious each one is of the other.

Tuesday’s developments sends out the message that for the time being it is advantage EPS-OPS. TTV is running out of options.

First Published: Sep 12, 2017 16:28 IST