Truce in AIADMK for now; OPS-EPS to jointly head party

 Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami and his deputy O Panneerselvam release a list of constituencies allotted to the allies in presence of coalition leaders, in Chennai, Sunday, March 17, 2019. (PTI Photo)

Overcoming differences within, Tamil Nadu’s ruling AIADMK on Wednesday announced that the current arrangement of O Panneerselvam and Edappadi K Palaniswami jointly steering the party will continue and there was no question of a leadership change at the moment.

A meeting of the party's district secretaries, MPs and MLAs decided on Wednesday that Panneerselvam and Palaniswami will continue as coordinator and joint-coordinator of the AIADMK, as approved by the party’s powerful General Council in September 2017.

It was also reiterated that reviving the post of General Secretary, held by party’s founder M G Ramachandran and J Jayalalithaa, was out of question.

The decision has temporarily brought down curtains on the rumbling within the AIADMK over “dual leadership” and voices that called for a “single and stable leadership” to steer the party that performed poorly in the just-concluded Lok Sabha polls.

The comments by senior leaders in the past week were seen as an attempt by Palaniswami to further side-line his deputy Panneerselvam and take full control of the party and the government.

Sources told DH that senior leaders took every effort to ensure that the meeting passes off without any heated arguments between the two warring factions on Wednesday.

A wafer-thin majority in the Assembly, and a resurgent DMK high on the Lok Sabha poll victory, perhaps weighed heavily on the minds of AIADMK leaders, who ensured that the meeting went off peacefully and does not disturb the current arrangement.

“The General Council in September 2017 approved the posts of Coordinator and Joint Coordinator for the AIADMK. Panneerselvam and Edappadi Palaniswami will continue to remain in their posts and guide the party. The question of reviving (post of) general secretary does not arise,” AIADMK deputy coordinator and Rajya Sabha MP, R Vaithilingam told reporters after the meeting.

Voices for a “single and strong leadership” emerged over the last weekend, with Madurai strongman V V Rajan Chellappa demanding that people take responsibility for the defeat in the Lok Sabha polls and that the party reconsider its dual leadership model.

Soon, many leaders, including Kunnam MLA R T Ramachandran, joined the chorus and indicated that they were in favour of Palaniswami heading both the party and the government.

Panneerselvam and Palaniswami were appointed coordinator and deputy coordinator of AIADMK in August 2017, following a truce between the two warring factions. As part of the agreement, Panneerselvam joined Palaniswami’s government as deputy chief minister.

Senior leaders told the meeting that the opinion of cadre should also be considered while deciding on an alliance. Panneerselvam, according to sources, told the meeting that the party should immediately constitute a committee with senior leaders as its members to guide and conduct day-to-day affairs of the AIADMK.

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