The Madras High Court is hearing a special plea by AIADMK leader O. Panneerselvam (OPS) on Sunday against former Tamil Nadu chief minister and AIADMK interim general secretary Edappadi K. Palaniswami (EPS) holding elections for the post of party general secretary.
Senior counsels CS Vaidyanathan and Vijay Narayan appeared for AIADMK and EPS while OPS was represented by senior counsel C Manishankar.
In the petition, OPS reportedly argued that the General Secretary post permanently belongs to the former CM J Jayalalithaa. The OPS camp further insists that the Election Commission has refused to consider EPS's request to recognise him as 'interim general secretary'. All EC communications are still sent to the 'coordinator' and 'joint coordinator' of the party.
The petition came before the High Court on Saturday just as EPS filed his papers to election commissioners Natham R Viswanathan and Pollachi V. Jayaraman. Soon after OPS held a press conference where he alleged that the election process was not in conformity with party laws.
"The organisational polls have to be held once in five years and the highest office is elected by primary members. Only the elected General Secretary can later conduct organisational polls and appoint functionaries. Further, membership forms have to be given during this period to include new members and renew membership for existing ones, following which identity cards have to be given for both," OPS said.
"The election to the top post will be held only after the completion of these processes. There is no due process and they want to hold the election for the general secretary post like a pickpocket doing away (with one's purse)..is this acceptable," he asked.
Meanwhile, many think the move to anoint himself as the party leader reflects EPS' desire to settle the issue immediately. Party insiders say that EPS doesn’t want the party symbol to be frozen like how it happened in the RK Nagar bypolls in 2017.
“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.