AIADMK’s dual leadership scrapped, Palaniswami named interim general secretary
O Panneerselvam, who has tussled with Palaniswami’s over the leadership, was expelled for “anti-party” activities along with his supporters
All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK)’s General Council on Monday named Edappadi K Palaniswami as its interim general secretary, ending the dual leadership model in Tamil Nadu’s main opposition party. O Panneerselvam, who has tussled with Palaniswami’s over the leadership, was expelled for “anti-party” activities along with his supporters R Vaithilingam and P H Manoj Pandian.
The council abolished Panneerselvam and Palaniswami’s posts of coordinator and joint coordinator, which were created after late former chief minister Jayalalithaa’s death in December 2016, citing difficulty in decision-making and discontentment among cadres.
Palaniswami accused Panneerselvam of siding with the ruling Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) and weakening AIADMK. He said they faced a lot of trouble due to the dual leadership. “Many leaders spoke to me several times to convince him [Panneerselvam] to bring back single leadership,” he said. He said Panneerselvam never sacrificed anything for the party while describing himself as a loyal AIADMK member of 48 years.
Panneerselvam remained defiant saying “15 million” party workers elected him as the coordinator and that no leader has the right to expel him. “I am saying now I am expelling Edappadi Palaniswami and [KP] Munusamy from the primary membership of the party,” OPS told reporters at AIADMK headquarters. He added he will move court.
The council’s meeting was held after a go-ahead from the Madras high court, which rejected Panneerselvam’s plea for a stay on the meet. Palaniswami’s faction called the meeting, where the party resolved to hold organisational polls in four months to elect the general secretary. It amended several bylaw for fresh norms for election to the party’s top position. Only a person with 10-year primary membership can now contest for the post.
Panneerselvam did not attend the meeting on Chennai’s outskirts but visited the party’s headquarters, where supporters of AIADMK’s rival factions clashed and threw stones at each other. His supporters tried to break open a locked door to enter the headquarters. Revenue officials rushed to the spot post noon and sealed the premises.
The court earlier refused to interfere with the party’s internal affairs and said it was unfortunate that Panneerselvam approached it instead of the council. “In the present case, the applicants have been knocking on doors of the courts of law by making their best efforts to use the courts as tools for their convenience to come to their rescue who are not in a position to gain confidence from among party members in their favour,” the court said.
Panneerselvam’s camp insisted the coordinator and the joint coordinator have to convene the meeting jointly as per the party’s norms. Palaniswami’s lawyers argued the dual leadership was no longer in force as the council at its previous meeting on June 23 did not ratify the election of both the leaders.
The Supreme Court permitted Palaniswami’s faction to convene the meeting last week to end the dual leadership even as Panneerselvam wanted it to continue.
Panneerselvam served as the chief minister thrice when Jayalalithaa was forced to step down because of the disproportionate assets case she faced. He was elevated as the chief minister for the third time in 2016 when Jayalalithaa passed away. Jayalalithaa’s aide, VK Sasikala, briefly took over the party and replaced him with Palaniswami. Panneerselvam and Palaniswami joined hands and expelled Sasikala when she was jailed in disproportionate assets case. Palaniswami consolidated his position within the party during his term as chief minister until 2021.