Chennai: Churning continues in AIADMK, O Panneerselvam rejects unitary leadership demand

Any attempt to revive the post of ‘General Secretary’, which was held by former Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, would amount to a big betrayal to her, he contended at a press conference.

N ChithraUpdated: Thursday, June 16, 2022, 11:58 PM IST
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Churning continues in AIADMK, O Panneerselvam rejects unitary leadership demand | ANI

Chennai: Arguing that the current “dual leadership” structure in the AIADMK was functioning smoothly, party coordinator O Pannneerselvam on Thursday night disapproved of suggestions that the party must migrate to a “unitary leadership”. Any attempt to revive the post of ‘General Secretary’, which was held by former Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, would amount to a big betrayal to her, he contended at a press conference.

Two days ago, at a meeting of senior party office bearers and district secretaries, a majority of leaders had spoken in favour of the party migrating to a “single leadership” so that it could be steered better. The AIADMK, founded by M G Ramachandran and succeeded by Jayalalithaa, was steered only by a single leader. However, after Jayalalithaa’s death following a split in the party, the factions led by former Chief Ministers Edappadi K Palaniswami and Panneerselvam had merged and opted for a “dual leadership structure” as per which the two would steer it jointly.

However, over time, Palaniswami had gained dominance in the party and Panneerselvam had minimal control over the organisation. “The two leaders, to this day, continue to fight for oneupmanship issuing separate statements on issues causing concern to the cadre who feel the party is being weakened despite having 66 MLAs,” said an observer.

Sensing that he could be outwitted at the party’s upcoming general council meeting next week, Panneerselvam told journalists no resolution to for reviving the post of general secretary could be brought at the meeting unless the same was signed by him (as coordinator) and Palaniswami (as co-coordinator). “The general council had resolved that Jayalalithaa will be the permanent general secretary of the party and we will have a dual leadership structure. Going back on it would be the biggest betrayal to Jayalalithaa,” he said.

According to him, the party bylaw was clear that those steering the party must be directly elected by the primary members of the AIADMK and not by its leaders or a body of office bearers.

Panneerselvam claimed he had joined hands with Palaniswami only because TTV Dhinakaran (Sasikala’s nephew) had rebelled and he did not want a Government established by Jayalalithaa to be toppled. “Even at the time of merger, I was not keen on being Deputy Chief Minister. The Indian Constitution does not recognise such a post. The Deputy Chief Minister does not have any powers of the Chief Minister. But eventually I agreed to hold the post as Prime Minister Modi had asked me to accept it,” he said.

Panneerselvam said he prayed that the general council would pass smoothly and was prepared to talk to Palaniswami to ensure the current structure, which is “going good”, continued.

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