Amid AIADMK leadership rumblings, OPS hits the road to regain strength in party

O Panneerselvam landed in Madurai on 26 June from Chennai, flagging off his political tour, before he left for his home town Theni.

ByUmar Sharieef

Published Jun 27, 2022 | 5:37 PMUpdatedJul 22, 2022 | 12:40 PM

AIADMK supporters at the party's headquarters during the functionary meeting. (South First/Umar Sharieef)

As the leadership rumblings between Edappadi Palaniswami (EPS) and O Panneerselvam (OPS) within the AIADMK widened, the latter on Sunday, 26 June, embarked on a political tour to test his strength in the party.

OPS landed in Madurai on Sunday, flagging off his political tour.

Party cadres and supporters from his community gathered to welcome him before he left for his home town Theni.

At the Madurai airport, OPS said, “Cadres are on my side.”

Hitting out at EPS, he said, “The people of Tamil Nadu and cadres will teach a fitting lesson to and punish those who were behind the web of conspiracy, and for being responsible for the current extraordinary situation in the party.”

Expecting to garner support in southern Tamil Nadu right at the beginning of the tour, OPS garlanded the statue of Pasumpon Muthuramalingam Thevar — a leader from the Thevar caste — in Usilampatti.

Sasikala on tour as well

VK Sasikala, a close aide of former chief minister and AIADMK general secretary J Jayalalithaa, also embarked on a political tour in Chennai and its nearby places on Sunday.

“Former chief minister and founder of the party MG Ramachandran (MGR) started this party to serve the poor and work for their welfare. Amma (Jayalalithaa) lived up to that after the demise of MGR. However, after the death of both leaders, it is my responsibility to bring AIADMK back to power,” she told reporters.

“Many women complain to me about the absence of women-based schemes implemented by Amma after her demise. I will form the government of the AIADMK in the next tenure,” Sasikala said.

Meeting muddle

Amid these political tours, the AIADMK under EPS convened a party meeting at the party headquarters in Royapettah in Chennai on Monday.

On Sunday, the party released a letter written by the “headquarters secretary”, announcing a meeting of headquarters functionaries on Monday.

Joint coordinator Palaniswami currently holds the post of headquarters secretary. However, the letter did not bear his signature.

Reacting to that, OPS said in a statement that the meeting — called without the consent of the coordinator and the joint coordinator — was not legally valid.

“Any meeting can convene only with the approval of the two,” he said, adding, “As coordinator, I have not given my approval for the meeting.”

However, the party’s senior leader Ponnaiyan told reporters that the headquarters secretary has the power to convene a meeting.

“The party’s headquarters secretary can call a meeting, and we discussed the party’s general stuff. The meeting by the party was held legally today,” Ponnaiyan said.

Former minister and a firm supporter of EPS, D Jayakumar, told reporters that OPS symbolises betrayal.

“Annan OPS has been a symbol of betrayal. So, he can’t be part of Namadhu Amma newspaper; Former Minister RB Udhayakumar has given a detailed account of the alleged betrayals of OPS to the AIADMK for a long time,” he said.