FORMER Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami (EPS) is back as interim general secretary of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK).
No, this was not as a consequence of an election. On September 2, a division bench of the Madras High Court set aside the single judge order of August 17 that nullified EPS’ appointment on the ground that the general council had not been held as per the procedure laid down. The bench restored the status quo as it existed on July 11, the day the general council of the AIADMK elected EPS as interim general secretary.
This is a massive setback for O. Panneerselvam (OPS), another former Chief Minister and former AIADMK convener, who has often taken the legal route to sort out his political problems within the party. In the first instance in June 2022, he sought to disrupt the holding of the general council. A single judge ruled in his favour.
Soon enough, the EPS faction, which has majority support in the AIADMK, went to court. A division bench of the court set aside the single judge order on July 11, minutes before the general council was to begin. The general council then went on to elect EPS as interim general secretary and made a few other appointments. It also threw OPS out of the party.
In effect, on two occasions, a single judge found merit in the arguments of OPS, and on both these occasions, subsequent to EPS preferring an appeal with a division bench, the verdicts of the single judge were overturned.
EPS faction AIADMK cadre celebrated outside the court and in some parts of the State. But OPS is in no mood to give up. His faction has made it known that it will appeal the verdict in the Supreme Court.
Aspire Swaminthan, the party’s former IT wing secretary, who quit after the EPS-OPS squabble, commended the judgment and said that this gave both parties a chance to “proceed further with their respective claims of party and symbol. … Had the judgment been otherwise, the entire functioning of the party would be deadlocked.”