Power struggle in AIADMK between OPS and EPS

Wednesday 29th June 2022 07:22 EDT

Chennai: Tamil Nadu's opposition AIADMK, caught in a huge power tussle between its two top leaders, has decided to go ahead with the General Council meet on July 11 to pave way for the elevation of former Chief Minister O Panneerselvam.

The meeting was held amid speculation that the party's chief O Panneerselvam may be sacked or expelled. Senior leader D Jayakumar said, "We have taken several decisions. They are confidential. We can't disclose now."

Panneerselvam's rival Edappadi Palanisamy, or EPS, is believed to have called the meeting though the notice names no one. EPS, the party's No. 2 and former Chief Minister, wants to be General Secretary of the party. Panneerselvam or OPS, however, wants dual leadership to continue.

OPS, in a tweet, called the meeting "illegal" and said such a move must be signed off by both the coordinator and co-coordinator - that is him and EPS. The EPS camp says there is "no dual leadership" in the party. EPS "steers the party and there is nothing wrong about this meet," a spokesperson close to him said.

EPS' attempts to take over as sole AIADMK boss suffered a setback last week when the Madras High Court restrained party leaders from taking any decision in a meeting over a party leader's challenge to AIADMK'S internal elections.

The meeting had turned chaotic as senior leaders from the EPS camp rejected all resolutions OPS moved and called for a fresh general council meet on July 11 to clear the way for EPS' takeover as General Secretary. "Now OPS is only the Treasurer and EPS is the Headquarters Secretary," senior leader CV Shanmugam, who is in the EPS camp, said.

The AIADMK has been struggling with factionalism and feuding since the death of its charismatic leader J Jayalalithaa, the former Chief Minister who died in 2016.
Jayalalithaa had made OPS the stand-in Chief Minister twice when she had to step down following court convictions. In the days before she died, he once again stepped in to take charge. But Jayalalithaa's close aide VK Sasikala took over the party after her death and sacked him when he rebelled against her.

Later OPS and EPS joined hands and expelled Sasikala. EPS made OPS Deputy Chief Minister. OPS, who became coordinator of the party, made EPS joint coordinator.

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