Leadership tussle in AIADMK continues; executive committee buys more time

Published : September 28, 2020 17:05 IST

Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami (right) and Deputy Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam. A file picture. Photo: R. Ragu

The tussle in the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK), relating to the naming of the Chief Minister candidate for the 2021 Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly election, continues with no solution in sight: both Chief Minister Edappadi K. PalaniswamI and Deputy Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam, who are Chief Minister hopefuls, have dug in their heels and are slugging it out.

The fight first came out in the open on August 15 when nearly a dozen Ministers shuttled between the two warring leaders and tried to trash out a solution. The September 28 meeting of the executive council was expected to decide on the issue. But the four-hour-plus meeting could not reach a conclusive decision and decided to stick to the status quo for now – that of Palaniswami heading the government and Panneerselvam, heading the party.

The party headquarters in Royapettah was decorated with banners, buntings, posters, and flex boards of leaders. Hundreds of cadre gathered at the headquarters in celebration – even though the COVID-19 infection has claimed over 9,000 lives in Tamil Nadu, and even though the State has been recording over 5,000 plus new cases each day. There was no chance to observe physical distance at the event.

After the conclusion of the meeting, party senior K.P. Munusamy told the press that a decision on the Chief Minister candidate will be announced on October 7. There was no announcement on the constitution of the 11-member High Power council, which was a key demand of the Panneerselvam faction.

The meeting is being held on a day when the DMK and its allies are holding state-wide demonstrations against the three farm Bills passed by Parliament. Opposition leaders, speaking at agitations across the State, did not lose a chance to remind people to consider the contrast between the ruling AIADMK and the main opposition, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK). They said that while the DMK was fighting for the issues of the people, the AIADMK was engaged in a power-struggle within. The AIADMK had welcomed the farm Bills, which it voted for in the Lok Sabha. An AIADMK member in the Rajya Sabha, opposed the Bill vehemently in his speech, before falling in line.

But AIADMK sympathisers pointed to the resolutions adopted in the party’s meeting today to assert that the party had the interests of the State always in mind. The AIADMK had adopted resolutions asking the Centre to scrap the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET), and seeking the arrears due under goods and services tax (GST). The party also made it clear that it would stick to the two-language formula and would not implement the three-language formula as dictated by the National Educational Policy.

With the resolutions, the AIADMK has taken the Palaniswami line in dealing with the Centre, and has sent a clear message to its cadre: the Bharatiya Janata Party is not a part of its plans for the next round of Assembly elections.

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