Kisi ka Kursi is the new narrative in Tamil Nadu’s ruling AIADMK party. A year after former chief minister J.Jayalaliithaa’s passing away, the state’s most popular party with the largest vote share has seen it all. And on Monday’s arguments and counter arguments in a closed door meeting to decide on the members of the governing council was the height of it.
The number of members in the council was increased from seven to nine only for accommodating the representatives of both Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswamy and Deputy Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam’s camps. But the discomfiture is not likely to settle down anytime soon, even in deciding the candidate for the RK Nagar bypolls.
On a day when the filing of nominations for the RK Nagar bypoll began, the ruling party which rested the constituency for more than a dozen times, is still to decide on the candidate. While party’s presidium chairman, who is from the OPS camp, had contested the byelection in April this year, EPS camp was represented by T.T.V. Dhinakaran. In fact Palaniswami himself, as the chief minister, campaigned for Dhinakaran. Now Dhinkaran is all set to contest the elections as an independent candidate.
Though the merged EPS-OPS group has won the prestigious 'two-leaves' symbol, the infighting within the party has widened further. But Panneerselvam, as the deputy chief minister, is in a position to compromise and settle for the maximum with EPS. Apparently, in a high level, closed door meeting held at the chief minister’s residence later in the day, TTV camp MPs like Navaneetha Krishnan, Gokula Krishnan and Vijila Sthyanand, too, came in, adding more strength to the EPS faction. The meeting was reportedly held to discuss a rally to be organised on December 5 to commemorate Jayalalithaa’s first death anniversary.
While in the AIADMK circles, it is now an open secret that the supporters of Panneerselvam are not happy post-merger. In a Facebook post last week, Rajya Sabha MP V.Maitreyan hinted at the differences between the two camps. “It has been three months now since the merger of EPS-OPS faction. Months are passing by, what about hearts?,” Maitreyan said in his post. Not this, Panneerselvam was allegedly sidelined during the victory celebrations at Madurai after securing the 'two-leaves' symbol.
Given the buzz on social media and the confusions at Monday's meeting in deciding on the members of the governing council, it is apparent that Palaniswami has now started gaining an upper hand both in the party and in the government. The nine-member governing council will now have six members from the EPS faction and just three from the OPS camp. OPS camp is represented by Panneerselvam himself as the chief coordinator of the party, K.P. Munusamy as deputy coordinator and E. Madhusoodhanan as presidium chairman. EPS faction has the majority including the chief minister himself, deputy coordinator and Rajya Sabha MP Vaithiyalingam, B. Valarmathi, Thamizh Magan Hussain, Justin Selvaraj and P. Venugopal.
With the MPs from the TTV camp, too, turning up, Palaniswami's stature in the party is all set to witness an increasing graph. And he is unlikely to give up, as all his statements in the public meetings and party meetings indicate that he wants to rest the government and the party, like Jayalalithaa. But for Panneerselvam, the RK Nagar bypolls and the party position is a fight to finish, because if he loses, it might see the dawn of his political career in the AIADMK.