OPS seeks unity, EPS appeals against restoration of AIADMK’s dual leadership
OPS appealed to everyone, including VK Sasikala who has been with the AIADMK, to come together for the party to rule Tamil Nadu again.
AIADMK leader O Panneerselvam on Thursday called for the unification of All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) factions a day after the Madras high court annulled his expulsion and Edappadi Palaniswami elevation to the interim general secretary’s post at the party’s July 11 general council meeting. The Palaniswami faction rejected the call as it sought an urgent hearing of its appeal against the court’s order.
Panneerselvam, who is popularly known as OPS, said AIADMK’s dual leadership, which the court restored on Wednesday, should continue. He addressed Palaniswami, or EPS, as his dear brother and appealed for rapprochement. “...AIADMK’s 15 million cadres desire unity,” he said when asked about the EPS faction’s appeal against the court order.
“He [EPS] performed well as the chief minister and I have supported him. We worked well together. That should happen again. ...there is no problem with the dual leadership,” said OPS. He added that there have been differences of opinion but the party has to unify to govern Tamil Nadu again. “Let bygones be bygones. Let us throw away the past bitterness and we should move forward with an aim of working together.”
The general council in July abolished OPS and EPS’s posts of coordinator and joint coordinator created after late former chief minister Jayalalithaa’s death in December 2016, citing difficulty in decision-making and discontentment among cadres.
OPS 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 EPS.
OPS and EPS joined hands and expelled Sasikala when she was jailed. EPS consolidated his position within the party during his term as chief minister until 2021.
OPS appealed to everyone, who has been with the AIADMK, to come together. ... “This includes Chinamma [Sasikala] and [her nephew] T T V Dhinakaran,” he said when asked why was he reluctant to name Sasikala.
EPS has opposed the return of Sasikala and her family members to AIADMK. OPS’s proximity to Sasikala was one of the reasons for EPS’s differences with the former and the move to end the dual leadership.
EPS rejected the call for unity. “How can we hold talks with a person [OPS] whose supporters attacked the AIADMK headquarters?” EPS asked.
On July 11, supporters of AIADMK’s rival factions clashed and threw stones at each other. Supporters of OPS tried to break open a locked door to enter the headquarters and prompted officials to seal it.