The ruling AIADMK at its general council meeting here on Sunday hailed its top two leaders O Panneerselvam and K Palaniswami as "guardians" and credited them for their stellar party work. After the death of its iconic leader J Jayalalithaa in 2016, party coordinator O Panneerselvam and co-coordinator K Palaniswami were the "guardians of the party who are rendering stellar work," a resolution adopted at the meeting said.
The two leaders, with smile writ large on their faces held swords of victory presented to them on the occasion. The endorsement of the duo's leadership at the general council and executive committee meet assumes significance as this is the first meeting of the top decision making bodies months after some had voiced support for a single leadership. In June, following the Lok Sabha poll debacle, AIADMK MLA V V Rajan Chellappa had pitched for a single "charismatic" leadership to steer the party, saying the present arrangement of dual power centres impeded quick decisions.
Soon, the AIADMK asserted that the status quo would prevail and Palaniswami and Panneerselvam would jointly continue to steer the outfit. The seal of approval comes against the backdrop of the party's victory in recent bypolls to Vikravandi and Nanguneri Assembly segments which has helped further enhance the stature of the two leaders. Chief Minister K Palaniswami, addressing the meet, said he came to occupy the top slot both in the party and government only after decades of work in the party organisation right from the lowest levels.
His remark is also seen as a reply to the recent "wonder" remark of top actor Rajinikanth. The superstar, who is expected to foray into politics, had said Palaniswami "would not even have dreamt" of assuming the Chief Minister's post and described his elevation as "wonder and marvel." Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam lauded Palaniswami for efficiently helming the goverment and enhancing the reputation of Amma. In a veiled attack on Rajinikanth for his recent "political vacuum," comment, the Deputy Chief Minister said,"there is no vacuum," adding AIADMK is synonymous with victories and none can snatch it away from it.
Without naming Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam leader TTV Dhinakaran, who previously was perceived as a threat to the AIADMK's leadership, Panneerselvam said cadres who had switched to the rival side realised the deceit and returned to the parent outfit. Senior leader K P Munusamy hailed O Panneerselvam and K Palaniswami as the two big leaders of AIADMK who had worked their way up in the party organisation from the scratch.
Electricity Minister P Thangamani took a dig at Rajinikanth without naming him for the same "wonder," remark. Hailing the Chief Minister for his administrative efficiency and personality, the Minister said it was such qualities that led to his success in governance. Palaniswami successfully tackled a slew of protests too; be it the government employees stir or the strike by doctors, the Minister said.
Besides, the "enemy" on the one side (the DMK) and "betrayer" (Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam's TTV Dhinakaran) on the other side were dealt successfully, he noted. Municipal Administration Minister SP Velumani too hailed both Panneerselvam and Palaniswami, the former as the hero of jallikattu and the latter as "Karikala Cholan," for a water conservation and replenishment (Kudimaramathu) scheme.
Notably, the resolution hailed late party supremo J Jayalalithaa as the "permanent party general secretary." The posts of coordinator and co-coordinator are the top two positions in the AIADMK now. After Jayalalithaa, there is no post of general secretary, the numero uno party rank till then. As part of decorations to welcome party workers and leaders to the meet, a temple tower -as seen in cinema sets for shoot- featured Jayalalithaa as the presiding deity and it attracted attention. A slogan, "kazhagame koil, Ammave deivam, (party is temple and Amma is God)" was embossed above the "sanctum sanctorum."