Tamil Nadu: Split threat looms on Opposition AIADMK
The Opposition AIADMK in Tamil Nadu appeared headed for a split over the “dual leadership” issue on Thursday, with a general council meeting ending abruptly and deferring a decision to restore a single leadership with all power vested in the general secretary.
A split in the AIADMK — which has 66 MLAs and 5 MPs — could see the breakaway faction’s lawmakers disqualified under the anti-defection law and cut the NDA’s votes during the July 18 presidential election.
Senior BJP leaders met E.K. Palaniswami and O. Panneerselvam, the leaders of the warring factions, separately to try and avert a split.
The AIADMK currently has no general secretary, which had been its topmost post since the party’s birth in 1972.
Under the present dual structure, coordinator Panneerselvam and co-coordinator Palaniswami jointly manage all party affairs and implement all its policies and programmes. The approval of both is required for all decisions.
The dual leadership was a compromise mediated by ally BJP and struck before a general council meeting in September 2017, the objective being to reunite the two factions that had emerged after Jayalalithaa’s death in December 2016.
Now, the pro-changers led by Palaniswami want to bring back the post of general secretary and have a single leadership, as in the past, citing the need for more effective functioning.
To prevent this, the no-changers led by Panneerselvam had approached Madras High Court and sought a restraint on the general council from amending the party bylaws and paving the way for a return to a unified leadership.
The Palaniswami camp, which claims the support of 2,500 of the general council’s 2,700 members, had planned a surprise special resolution to end the dual posts of coordinator and co-coordinator and elect Palaniswami as the new general secretary on Thursday.
But a high court division bench, hearing a Panneerselvam backer’s plea at a judge’s residence in the early hours of Thursday, ruled that while the general council meeting could go on, it could not take up any new resolution not already on the agenda.
The Panneerselvam camp’s relief was, however, brief as it was clearly outnumbered at the general council meeting.
In deference to written requests from a majority of general council members to consider a special resolution to restore a single leadership, Palaniswami supporters in a tactical move rejected all 23 resolutions listed for the day. They convened a fresh general council on July 11 to take up the single leadership issue.
A few Panneerselvam supporters who were on stage walked up to the microphone and loudly protested the general council’s rejection of all the 23 resolutions as “illegal” and walked out, led by Panneerselvam.
Water bottles flew towards Panneerselvam as he left the venue and a tyre of his car was reportedly punctured, enraging his supporters outside.
The Panneerselvam camp plans to take legal recourse to have Thursday’s general council meeting declared invalid.