AIADMK single leader row timeline: OPS attends general council meet after divisional court ruling
A divisional court ruled that no resolution could be passed for unitary leadership in the AIADMK during the general council meeting on June 23. Post this ruling, OPS decided to attend the meeting. Here is a timeline of the AIADMK unitary leadership controversy.
A division bench of Justice Duraiswamy and Justice Sundar Mohan, on Thursday morning, ruled that the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) general council (GC) meeting should only hear the 23 resolutions already presented to O Pannerselvam (OPS) for approval. It also ruled that no decision can be taken on the issue of unitary leadership in today’s meeting.
Prior to this, the Madras HC, while hearing a case filed against conducting the GC meeting, ruled that the meeting was allowed to happen. Justice Krishnan Ramasamy stated that the court couldn’t pass restraining orders against the general council and that it shouldn’t interfere in such matters.
But, the divisional bench’s ruling to not allow any resolution on unitary leadership comes as a sigh of relief to the OPS camp. Post this verdict, OPS decided to attend the general council meeting, despite multiple attempts to postpone or cancel it.
The power struggle within the AIADMK came to the fore yet again ahead of the party’s general council meeting. While Edappadi K Palaniswami (EPS) and OPS, on several occasions in the last year, released individual statements on issues, unlike the normal norm of sending a joint statement, the differences and the power struggle have increased in recent days.
JUNE 14: JAYAKUMAR’S STATEMENT ON SINGLE LEADER
The controversy began once again on June 14, when former minister, D Jayakumar, restarted the unitary leader controversy. Jayakumar, while speaking to India Today, said that several party functionaries were calling for a single leader in the AIADMK.
“We discussed several issues in the meeting. Singular leadership also came up and many party members were favouring this. Only later will it be decided as to who will be the leader,” said the minister.
JUNE 15: POSTERS APPEAR ACROSS TN
The power struggle within the leadership and Jayakumar’s statement fueled a poster war in the TN since June 15. Supporters rooting for the two leaders (EPS, OPS) began pasting posters in several parts of the state. In a few places, there were even tussles between EPS and OPS supporters over the removal of those posters.
The demand for a single leader comes just days before the party’s general council meeting on June 23, and at a time when senior party members have been holding meetings to decide on the agenda for the upcoming general council meeting.
Interestingly, in last year’s general council meeting, the party passed a resolution that former chief minister and party chief J Jayalalithaa would be the permanent general secretary of the AIADMK.
CRACKS WITHIN AIADMK BECOME EVIDENT
In the last few days, fissures within the party have become evident. Several senior members have openly been taking sides with either EPS or OPS. According to sources, both OPS and EPS have also been in touch with the different functionaries to gain their support.
Even as tense discussions were underway in both the camps, OPS was the first to break his silence.
OPS, on June 16, said, “Only Amma (Jayalalithaa) is the permanent general secretary of the party. In the current situation, there is no need for a single leader. There is already a resolution passed, that the coordinator and joint coordinator will be chosen by party cadres, which was given to the Election Commission, and the EC asked us to proceed.”
OPS said that, in the meeting, there was no discussion about single leadership. He added that no one can force him to resign from the party’s coordinator position.
JUNE 17: EPS CAMP’S SHOW OF STRENGTH
But the chorus for single leadership was heard in the EPS camp even on June 17, a day after OPS’s media interaction.
In the event that EPS participated in Thiruvannamalai, his supporters displayed a show of strength. EPS was also called the single leader of the party. Though EPS remained silent while his supporters cheered, this too had sent out a strong message.
As the situation remained tense on June 18, OPS joined the resolution committee meeting with senior executives and ex-ministers Ponnaiyan, Vaithilingam, D Jayakumar, Vellamandi Natarajan and the committee members.
Outside the party office, OPS and EPS supporters had gathered in large numbers and had raised slogans in favour of their respective leaders. Meanwhile, senior leader Ponnaiyan said that the upcoming general council meeting on June 23 will be conducted as per schedule.
Ponnaiyan said, “No conversation on single or dual leadership was made during the meeting. No party bylaws are to be amended.”
Deputy coordinator R Vaithilingam also reiterated that the bylaws of the party don’t have a position for a single leader.
Vaithilingam said, “No one can become the general secretary of the party, there is no space for that as per the law. Reports like this are not good for the growth of the party.”
In the last few days, several supporters from the OPS camp jumped ship and pledged their support for EPS. This included senior leaders of the party who had joined OPS’s side in 2017 when he went up against Sasikala.
JUNE 20: OPS CALLS TO POSTPONE MEETING
On June 20, OPS wrote to EPS seeking postponement of the general council meeting, claiming that an extraordinary situation of confusion had risen in the party, which could lead to a law and order problem in the state.
The silence from the EPS camp led to OPS on June 20 further writing to a city court, seeking to cancel the general council meeting.
Meanwhile, on June 21, the EPS camp’s senior leader, Benjamin, also approached the court seeking adequate protection. He said they expected violence on the day of the general council.
The court ordered the local police to take up measures to ensure no untoward incidents happen at the general council meeting.
The drama continued late into the night of June 21, when OPS wrote to the Commissioner of Police, Avadi, asking him to cancel the general council meeting due to potential law and order problems.
JUNE 21: RUCKUS AT AMMA MEMORIAL
Later that night, a ruckus broke out at the Amma Memorial on Chennai’s Marina beach after OPS supporters gathered and raised slogans against EPS. One of them even attempted to set themselves on fire.
Senior AIADMK leader D Jayakumar, after speaking with EPS, said, “The general council meeting will happen for sure on June 23. It is 100 per cent sure. OPS and EPS together only announced the general council meeting, and so we hope he will participate too.”
JUNE 22, 23: LEGAL IMBROGLIO OVER MEETING
The Madras HC, on June 22, while hearing a case filed against conducting the GC meeting, ruled that the meeting was allowed to happen. Justice Krishnan Ramasamy stated that the court couldn’t pass restraining orders against the general council and that it shouldn’t interfere in such matters.
Post this, during the wee hours of Thursday morning, a division bench of Justice Duraiswamy and Justice Sundar Mohan ruled that the GC meeting should only hear the 23 resolutions already presented to OPS. They also ruled that no resolution regarding unitary leadership should be taken up during the meeting on June 23.
AIADMK HEADS TOWARDS ANOTHER FACTION WAR
Former CM J Jayalalithaa envisioned that the AIADMK would helm the state for the next 100 years. But, the faction war after her demise ensured that the party didn’t come to power in the 2021 polls.
Now, the power struggle and the internal feud seem like the beginning of another faction war, raising a big question about the future of the AIADMK as well.
According to sources, the EPS camp is relying on a bylaw which allows for an interim general council meeting to be conducted within one month.
Bylaw 19 (7) states, “If one-fifth of the members of the General Council request the Co-ordinator and Joint Co-ordinator to convene the Special Meeting of the General Council, the Co-ordinator and Joint Co-ordinator should do so within 30 days of the receipt of such a requisition.”
EPS followers could be planning to call for an interim GC meeting and pass the resolution for unitary leadership then.