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AIADMK announces election to top posts in a hurry to keep Sasikala away

The election to posts of coordinator and joint coordinator will be held on Tuesday

INDIA-POLITICS-SASIKALA Opening gambit: Sasikala pays floral tributes to AIADMK founder M.G. Ramachandran on her return to Chennai | AFP

A day after tweaking the party bylaws, the AIADMK, on Thursday, announced the date for intra-party election to the posts of coordinator and joint coordinator. The election will be held on Tuesday (December 7). The announcement comes in a hurry after the bylaws were amended by a special resolution on Wednesday, allowing the primary members of the party to elect the coordinator and joint coordinator by a single vote.

The filing of nominations for the election will be held on Friday and Saturday. Former ministers C. Ponnaiyan and Pollachi V. Jayaraman will be election commissioners. "The election has been announced in a hurry to make sure that the top positions are held by the Edappadi K Palaniswami (EPS)-O Panneerselvam (OPS) duo, as they fear our Chinnamma," said one of the party office-bearers from Virudhunagar, on condition of anonymity.

An executive committee member, who was part of the party meeting on Wednesday, said the move was to ensure that the party continues to be under the dual leadership of EPS and OPS and Sasikala finds no place in it.

This is the first time in the 50-year history of AIADMK that the nominations for the post of the top leadership will be filed, by a pair of leaders. The coordinator and joint coordinator together will have the powers of party general secretary. OPS, who is the coordinator, and EPS, the joint coordinator, are expected to file their nomination papers on Friday and then get elected unopposed, sources confirmed.

Sources said only OPS and EPS will be filing nominations. For every pair contesting, every primary member will cast a single vote. Only members who have been with the party for five years will be eligible to vote.

As per the election schedule released on Thursday, the scrutiny of nominations will be done on Sunday. Elections will take place on Tuesday and the results will be declared on Wednesday. The results will be declared on Sunday itself if there is only one set of nominations.

This is the first time AIADMK will go for intra-party elections, after the death of Jayalalithaa in 2015. Usually, the organisational elections in the AIADMK first happen for the lowest post in the party and later for the top post, which is the general secretary. But this is the first time time it is happening from top to the grassroot levels. "This is because OPS and EPS do not know the strength of the cadres. Also at the grassroot levels, party infrastructure is not in place. If the elections to the lowest posts are announced, there will be complete chaos," said an office-bearer on condition of anonymity.

AIADMK's organisational elections will be held in two phases between December 13 and 23 for the posts in town panchayat wards, municipal wards and corporation wards, in all the 75 party districts. The first phase of elections will take place on December 13 and 14 for 35 party districts. Kanyakumari, Tenkasi, Tirunelveli, Virudhunagar, Madurai, Nagapattinam, Mayiladuthurai, Perambalur, Ariyalur, the Nilgiris, Erode, Salem, Namakkal, Villupuram, Krishnagiri, Tiruvannamalai, Kancheepuram, Tiruvallur and Chengalpet district units will see polls in the first phase. The second phase of elections will take place on December 22 and 23 for party 40 districts, including Tuticorin, Sivaganga, Ramanathapuram, Theni, Dindigul, Thiruvarur, Pudukottai, Thanjavur, Trichy, Coimbatore, Tirupur, Dharmapuri, Kallakurichi, Vellore, Tirupathur, Vellore, Cuddalore, Ranipet and Chennai.

Meanwhile, in a statement, expelled AIADMK general secretary Sasikala asked the party cadres to stay calm and wait for a few more days. She promised that "things will change."

She is expected to visit Jayalalithaa's beachside memorial on December 5. 

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