There was stone-pelting, there were highs and lows, and there was sloganeering. But when the dust settled on Monday, 11 July, the dual leadership tussle between Edappadi Palaniswami (EPS) and O Panneerselvam (OPS) in the AIADMK had come to an end, with the former appointed interim general secretary, and the latter being expelled.
Election for the post of general secretary will be in four months, former minister RB Udayakumar said while listing out the amendments adopted in the party’s general council meeting, held at Vanagaram near Chennai.
EPS became the party’s general secretary after five years. He is the fourth general secretary of the party after MG Ramachandran (MGR), J Jayalalithaa, and VK Sasikala. EPS and OPS expelled Sasikala from the party’s primary membership in 2017.
The meeting convened after the Madras High Court on Monday gave a green signal for it. OPS had approached the court seeking an injunction against it.
Justice Krishnan Ramasamy dismissed his plea and allowed the AIADMK to conduct the meeting to abolish the posts of coordinator and joint coordinator and elect an interim general secretary.
The order came at 9 am, and the AIADMK commenced the meeting only after that.
The single-leadership issue reared its head at a district secretaries’ meeting on 14 June, from which Palaniswami continued to show strength.
Panneerselvam had put all the efforts into keeping the general council meeting from deciding on the issue.
A small victory came for him when the division bench of the Madras High Court on 23 June directed the meeting not to decide on a single leader.
However, OPS staged a walkout from the meeting as it rejected all 23 resolutions.
The Supreme Court on 7 July rejected his plea to stall the meeting and stayed the high court order.
In a series of events that unfolded in between, the OPS faction yet again faced disappointments when Madras High Court on Monday permitted the AIADMK to conduct the meeting.
AIADMK adopts 16 resolutions
The party unanimously passed 16 resolutions during the general council meeting held on Monday.
The resolutions included adopting single leadership, demanding Bharat Ratna awards to Periyar, CN Annadurai, and Jayalalithaa, and appointing an interim general secretary.
Senior AIADMK leader and former minister Natham Viswanathan passed the resolutions before general council members.
All the council members participated in the meeting, AIADMK spokesperson Nirmala Periyasamy told South First.
Panneerselvam expelled by EPS
Palaniswami expelled Panneerselvam from the party’s primary membership after assuming the general secretary post.
Natham Viswanathan moved a special resolution during the meeting to expel OPS. The general council adopted it unanimously.
The resolution accused OPS of hobnobbing with the DMK. It also said the OPS worked to bring the party from functioning to a standstill.
Saying that he had worked against the interest of the AIADMK, the party also sacked his loyalists R Vaithilingam, PH Manoj Pandian, and JCD Prabakar.
The crowd also demanded the sacking of OPS’ son OP Raveendranath from the party’s primary membership.
OPS expels EPS
Amid the chaos, OPS, during a meeting with his supporters at the AIADMK headquarters in Royapettah in Chennai, said he was expelling EPS from the party.
OPS said he was elected as the coordinator of the AIADMK by 1.5 crore party workers.
“Palaniswami doesn’t have any right to expel me from the party,” he told reporters.
OPS supporters attack HQ
Hours before the general council meeting began, OPS and his supporters arrived at the AIADMK headquarters to discuss his next move.
However, following the high court order and dispute with EPS supporters, the OPS faction resorted to violence.
EPS and OPS supporters attacked each other, resulting in tension.
At least five were injured during the violence and admitted to a government hospital, Royapettah police officials told South First.
Supporters broke open the room of Jayalalithaa at the headquarters.
Revenue Department officials sealed the AIADMK headquarters following the violence.
EPS supporters hit back
“OPS is guilty of many betrayals to the party and Amma (Jayalalithaa). Amma rejected him firsthand, but he stayed despite facing embarrassing moments. What sort of demeanour does OPS have? He is not fit for the party, and he must answer for all this one day,” Karur district AIADMK functionaries told South First.
EPS supporters welcomed all the resolutions and celebrated by setting off fireworks after the council expelled OPS.
Standing for a long time waiting to see Edappadi, his supporters raised slogans and placards favouring him.
Women functionaries from the Kongu belt told South First that OPS’ political life had ended.
“Our beloved brother EPS finished OPS’ political career. OPS is not needed anymore. It is what will happen to this traitor to the party,” they said.
Permanent general secretary
Speaking to reporters outside the meeting venue, AIADMK spokesperson Nirmala Periyasamy said EPS would be the permanent general secretary of the party.
“God will one day decide to punish those who boast themselves to be the superior. OPS acted in a way that nobody could do anything without his permission within the party. His actions showed supremacy, which is not healthy. So, God decided to punish him, and as a result, the party sacked him,” she said.
Since the death of Jayalalithaa in 2016, the party has been following the dual-leadership model. OPS and EPS were the coordinators and joint coordinators of the party, respectively.