Chennai: In a big boost for former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami, the Supreme Court on Thursday upheld a July 11, 2022 party general council meeting where he was elected “interim general secretary” and the former coordinator O Panneerselvam was expelled.
With this the AIADMK is set to revert to unitary leadership dumping the dual leadership model of coordinator and joint coordinator, which it had experimented with from 2017 till the fallout between the two leaders in mid-2022.
The SC bench headed by Justice Dinesh Maheshwari, passing orders in the dispute between the two factions of the AIADMK over the validity of the general council meeting, observed that the two leaders – Palaniswami and Panneerselvam were not functioning in unison.
'EPS, OPS do not stand together'
Referring to the contention of Panneerselvam that the AIADMK is represented by ‘coordinator and joint coordinator’, the court said, “This effort on the part of the plaintiffs carries its own shortcomings when it remains undeniable that they i.e., OPS and EPS, the Co-ordinator and the Joint Co-ordinator respectively, do not stand in jointness or even togetherness so as to work cohesively as a unit. The effort on the part of the plaintiffs does not stand in conformity with the existing realities.”
The court made it clear that though several submissions were made by the appellants assailing the validity and correctness of the resolutions adopted in the July 11 meeting, “we have not chosen to deal with any of those contentions”. The reason for this was because, the decisions taken at the meeting do not form the subject matter of the applications.
All objections, rebuttals of contesting parties kept in open
The order said in the interest of justice, the court has left open all related aspects concerning the resolutions open to be agitated, but strictly in accordance with law; and all the objections and rebuttals of the contesting parties are also kept open.
“Before concluding, we also make it clear that none of the observations in this judgment shall have any bearing on the merit consideration of the pending civil suits relating to these appeals; and the said suits shall be proceeded with on their own merits and in accordance with law.”
'AIADMK is now a united party'
For Palaniswami, the verdict delivered just a day ahead of former Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa’s birth anniversary and in the midst of the Erode East Assembly bypoll, came as a boost. “AIADMK is now a united party,” he declared amidst cheers from ecstatic cadres in Madurai.
Palaniswami said the judgment had injected life to the party’s “1.5 crore cadre” and would inspire them to work harder for a victory in the bypoll. “This verdict has put an end to all claims that our party has broken into several factions and would vanish. It has ripped off the masks of the party’s betrayers who were functioning as the ‘B Team’ of the ruling DMK,” he charged.
For Panneerselvam the verdict came as a shocker. He has now been left more or less politically isolated and the possibility of him mounting any successful legal challenge in the civil suits to gain control of the party remain remote. Clearly, the majority support is with Palaniswami.
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