The ruling AIADMK’s general council on Saturday not only endorsed Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami as the party’s face for this year’s Tamil Nadu assembly election but also vested complete powers in him and Dy CM O Panneerselvam to decide about forming a “victorious alliance” and seat sharing exercise with allies.
Palaniswami is the co-coordinator of the AIADMK, while Panneerselvam is its coordinator. After a brief tussle between them last year, at a high level committee of the AIADMK, eventually Panneerselvam proposed Palaniswami as the CM candidate. At that time an 11-member steering committee was also constituted as a quid pro quo to Panneerselvam.
On Saturday, the general council, the supreme party body, ratified both decisions. Already Palaniswami has been campaigning in different districts under the slogan ‘Vetrinadai Podum Tamilagam’ (Tamil Nadu marches on victoriously).
The ratification is significant as now the decision to project Palaniswami as the AIADMK’s face for the polls cannot be reversed. It also comes days ahead of the expected release of VK Sasikala, the close aide of former party leader Jayalalithaa, from the Bengaluru prison where she is serving a 4-year term after being convicted for corruption. Curiously, the party general council made no reference to Sasikala’s impending release in any of its resolution except for senior leader KP Munusamy saying it would make no impact. After Jayalalithaa’s death she was appointed the party’s interim general secretary but after her incarnation Palaniswami managed to make her a persona non grata within the AIADMK.
While the AIADMK has endorsed Palaniswami, except for the Tamil Maanila Congress, no other ally of the ruling party has agreed to project him as CM candidate. The BJP, with which the AIADMK leadership voluntarily cemented an alliance last year, is still speaking in ambiguous terms on accepting Palaniswami as the CM candidate.
Meanwhile, at the meeting, Palaniswami called for greater booth management citing the 12,000-odd votes with which the NDA retrained power in Bihar last year.
Panneerselvam described the DMK as worse than novel coronavirus disease and called for its defeat. It was emphasised if the DMK is defeated for a third straight time in an Assembly election then it could never bounce back. Deputy coordinator Munusamy made it clear that the fight in the election will be between the ADMK and DMK and national parties would hardly matter. The national parties were only “bystanders”, he said.