Former Tamil Nadu chief minister and AIADMK interim general secretary Edappadi K. Palaniswami (EPS) on Saturday filed his nomination papers for the election to the post of party general secretary. Hours later, his betenoire O. Panneerselvam (OPS) knocked the doors of Madras High Court seeking a stay on the polls.
EPS, flanked by his supporters, filed his papers to election commissioners Natham R Viswanathan and Pollachi V. Jayaraman. His nomination was proposed and seconded by 20 district secretaries, all second level leaders in the party.
Why EPS wants to anoint himself to top post
Party insiders say that EPS doesn’t want the party symbol to be frozen like how it happened in the RK Nagar by polls in 2017. Sources also say that EPS wants the leadership issue to be settled immediately and the power be with him forever.
“He wants to be the unopposed leader like MGR and Jayalalithaa. But that may not be possible. Even his close lieutenants S.P. Velumani and P. Thangamani could turn against him if the BJP tightens the grip. Remember we were in power between 2017 and 2021 and no one was above corruption,” says a senior functionary on condition of anonymity.
The functionary apparently accompanied EPS when he filed the nominations on Saturday. “We want our party to thrive. There is no other option now,” he says.
Palaniswami, sources say, has virtually arrogated himself to be the unequivocal leader of the Kongu region or West Tamil Nadu which is dominated by the Gounder community. “He feels the Kongu region is his fiefdom,” says the senior functionary.
The election schedule was announced late on Friday night by the AIADMK officially taking everyone including the EPS camp by surprise. Sources say that the OPS camp was shaken hearing about the election notification.
OPS won’t allow an election - why?
Panneerselvam, who has been sidelined from the party, called EPS as a “dictator”. In a press conference, OPS said that he and his supporters will go around the state and explain to the party members and the general public about EPS’s functioning.
“He has thrown all the party’s bylaws in the air. He has virtually arrogated himself to the post of general secretary.”
P.H. Manoj Pandian, an OPS supporter, filed a plea in the high court seeking a stay on the election to the post of general secretary. Justice S. Kumaresa Babu is likely to hear the plea in a special sitting on Sunday.
For OPS, an election would mean that he will never have a political future in the party. He has already lost his grip in the party and the only clinging hope for him is the legal window that is still open. His frequent knocking of the doors of the judiciary has also proved that he has become a defeated force within the AIADMK.
Incidentally it was only on Friday the Madras High Court posted the applications filed by Pandian and two other expelled leaders, R. Vaithilingam and J.C.D. Prabhakar, seeking an injunction against the party from giving effect to the resolutions passed at the July 11, 2022 general council meeting. Though the Supreme Court had earlier declared that the general council meeting held in July 2022 last year was valid, it ruled the two factions may fight it as a civil suit in an appropriate forum, with regard to the resolutions passed. The election commission, on the other hand, has also not ratified the resolutions passed in the general council meeting.