AIADMK rejigs bye-laws to help Palaniswami and Panneerselvam continue as the twin leadership of the party

Published : December 02, 2021 21:52 IST

AIADMK coordinator O. Panneerselvam and co-coordinator Edappadi K. Palaniswami at the party's executive committee meeting in Chennai on December 2. Photo: JOTHI RAMALINGAM B.

In the latest executive committee meeting, it was resolved unanimously to restore to the primary members the role of electing the party leadership although the post of general secretary stood abolished

Wary of the growing dissent within the party and stalked by fears of poaching from outside, the twin leadership of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) in Tamil Nadu, Edappadi K. Palaniswami and O. Panneerselvam, in an attempt to retain their hold over the party, has effected yet another set of major amendments to the party’s bye-laws, the second since the demise of former Chief Minister and leader Jayalalithaa in 2016.

At its executive committee meeting held at Chennai on December 1, the bye-laws were re-amended, restored, changed and revised primarily with the objective of retaining the present twin leadership and its powers. On September 13, 2017, the then general council of the party made several similar changes in the party’s bye-laws so that the present twin leadership could take charge of the party, fully empowered. The general council had also removed V.K. Sasikala, close aide of Jayalalithaa, as interim general secretary, a post that the same general council had elected her to on December 29, 2016, after Jayalalithaa’s death.

A resolution passed at the general council meeting on December 29 stated that Sasikala had been nominated as interim general secretary and would hold the post until she was elected full-time general secretary. When she was removed, Sasikala was serving a prison term in Bengaluru in the disproportionate assets case in which she was Accused No 2; Jayalalithaa was Accused No. 1.

The 2017 amendment abolished the post of general secretary, which was held by the founder leader M.G. Ramachandran and Jayalalithaa, and bestowed on the twin leadership of coordinator and co-coordinator the powers of authority to run the party. Instead of the primary members who until then elected the general secretary, the 2017 amendment made it the responsibility of the general council to elect the coordinator and co-coordinator.

But in the latest executive committee meeting, it was resolved unanimously to restore to the primary members the role of electing the party leadership although the post of general secretary stood abolished, and it was "reserved for Jayalalithaa, as eternal general secretary". The executive committee further noted that instead of the post of general secretary, the primary members, this time, would elect on a single vote system the coordinator and co-coordinator. It, thus, reversed the earlier amendment by which the top leadership was elected by the general council.

[The original party’s rule 20 (v) says: "If for any reason, the post of general secretary becomes vacant in between, the office-bearers who were nominated by the previous general secretary will hold office and continue to function till the new general secretary is elected and assumes office." Rule 20 (ii) underscores the point that the general secretary "shall be elected by the primary members of all the party units of Tamil Nadu and the members of the party in other States". Rule 43, on amendments, as passed in the executive council meeting held on February 5, 2007, makes clear that the General Council has the power to frame, amend or delete any rule in the party’s constitution, but emphasises that "the Rule that the general secretary should be elected only by all the primary members of the party cannot be changed or amended since it forms the basic structure of the party".]

The second batch of bye-law amendments, political observers felt, was to address the voices of dissent that the twin leadership was facing for not getting themselves elected by primary members as per the original bye-law, which M.G. Ramachandran had mandated and Jayalalithaa faithfully adhered to. The law remained unchanged for nearly five decades until the present leadership took over. Rule 30 (i), points out that elections of officer-bearers of the party’s various units will be held once every five years. "Those who want to contest the posts of office-bearers in the party organisation should have been members of the party for five years without any break."

In this regard, a senior party leader said that Sasikala was elected as general secretary under the "assumption" that she was a party member. "But a perusal of the records said that after Jayalalithaa dismissed her, she had neither renewed her membership nor applied for a new one. Her election was an oversight and technically a flawed one at that time," he said.

Challenging the August 2017 amendments, including her removal from the general secretary’s post, Sasikala had approached the Madras High Court, which transferred it to a jurisdictional civil court. Earlier the Election Commission of India had dismissed her plea. In her civil suit she sought to declare that Palaniswami and Panneerselvam were "not members of the party." Removing her from the party leadership was illegal and also against the by-laws of the party, she claimed.

The executive committee’s decisions will be ratified by the general council to be held later. Rule 19 (viii) says that the "general council will be the supreme authority" and that any "decision of the general council is final and binding on all the members of the party", but this time the executive committee took important decisions. It also passed a resolution that former MP and senior leader since M.G. Ramachandran’s days, A. Anwhar Raajhaa, had been removed from the primary membership of the party for anti- party activities. He, in a media interview, had expressed his views in favour of a single leadership, something that many other senior leaders had also expressed at different times.


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