AIADMK cornered to address speculation on split, Palaniswami’s fate post Lok Sabha election results | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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AIADMK cornered to address speculation on split, Palaniswami’s fate post Lok Sabha election results

May 22, 2024 09:06 AM IST

With two weeks left for counting on June 4, the main opposition party in Tamil Nadu, the AIADMK, appears to be in disarray once again with a section of party leaders claiming that the result will determine the future of party supremo, Edappadi Palaniswami (EPS)

Chennai: With two weeks left for counting on June 4, the main opposition party in Tamil Nadu, the AIADMK, appears to be in disarray once again with a section of party leaders claiming that the result will determine the future of party supremo, Edappadi Palaniswami (EPS).

AIADMK cornered to address speculation on split, Palaniswami’s fate post Lok Sabha election results
AIADMK cornered to address speculation on split, Palaniswami’s fate post Lok Sabha election results

In the event of the party finishing behind the BJP in terms of either voter share or seats, party leaders aware of the development said that there could be resentment over decisions taken by EPS, particularly his plans to field lesser known candidates for the Lok Sabha seats when Tamil Nadu went to polls on April 19. Close associates of EPS fear that a drubbing could lead to defections from the party to the BJP, while others seek a change in leadership.

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Since EPS took over as chief minister in 2017, the AIADMK has lost every election. The parliamentary polls are his first after he ousted O Panneerselvam (OPS).

Tamil Nadu law minister S Regupathy’s recent statement that the AIADMK will split and see a change in leadership has got the close associates of EPS coming to his defence, claiming the party is firmly behind him. On EPS’ birthday on May 13, he said, “We will know after the election results whether the AIADMK now led by EPS will change to dual leadership again. There is a chance of a major split in the AIADMK.”

Regupathy was referring to the dual leadership of OPS and EPS helming the AIADMK from 2017 to 2022 until EPS expelled him. There has been a flurry of reports that OPS’ supporters are inching closer to the AIADMK and he may be taken back following the Lok Sabha results.

However, the party has dismissed such rumors. R B Udayakumar who replaced OPS as the deputy leader of opposition on Sunday said that he was instructed by EPS to convey that OPS will never be taken back.

Tamil Nadu went to polls in the first phase on April 19. The AIADMK broke the alliance with the BJP last September. The Dravidian major contested with only one major ally - the Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam (DMDK) - with the remaining allies in the previous set of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) choosing to ally with the BJP.

“There are divergent views within the party,” said a senior AIADMK leader close to EPS not wishing to be named. “The cadre desperately needs a win. Post elections in a close door meeting, EPS was not happy with some district secretaries for not doing enough work for the parliamentary polls. This did not go down well with some of them.”

“There has been a discontent since late last year that we were not doing enough to take on the DMK,” said a second AIADMK leader.

“But, once the campaign started, we saw how much anti-incumbency against the DMK there was and EPS was receiving a lot of support. But, we also received feedback that voters were not familiar with the candidates. Our leader also began attacking state BJP leaders much later in the campaign,” he added.

AIADMK leaders have been forced to quell various speculation in the run up to counting. “Wrong information is being spread that the party is facing some issues. We have accepted Edappadi K Palaniswami as our leader after MGR and Jayalalithaa as he saved the party and symbol after great struggle,” former minister S P Velumani told reporters on Monday. “There is no possibility for a separate faction to be formed again in AIADMK. Those who betrayed the party have gone out. There are no more confusions. He takes any decision only after consulting every one of us.”

But his colleague in the party and former minister Sellur Raju on Tuesday posted a video clip of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on X saying that he admired him. Congress is the main ally of the ruling DMK in Tamil Nadu and the duo are part of the INDIA bloc. AIADMK leaders said there is a lot of uncertainty among party leaders and cadres over the future of the party after June 4.

Political analyst Maalan Narayanan said that there will be reverberations and changes in all three parties - the DMK, AIADMK and BJP following the results. “If the AIADMK finishes behind the BJP, EPS will be forced to go for a compromise with the BJP and the OPS faction,” Narayanan said. “But, if the BJP is third, then EPS will be on top and he will try to strengthen his alliance and attempt to bring back allies who have joined the BJP.”

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