Nearly a month after EPS-OPS showdown, what is cooking in AIADMK?

Edappadi Palaniswami continues to assert his position in the AIADMK, while OPS has gone back to the basics to gain his community's support.

ByUmar Sharieef

Published Aug 09, 2022 | 5:55 PMUpdatedAug 10, 2022 | 8:24 AM

OPS on the left with EPS

Almost a month after the Edappadi Palaniswami (EPS) faction held the AIADMK general council meeting in Vangaram near Chennai, the leadership battle between him and O Panneerselvam (OPS) rages on.

The ongoing leadership tussle between the duo peaked during the meeting on 11 July, where EPS expelled OPS from the party’s primary membership and assumed charge as its interim general secretary.

Since then, the duo has continued to gain popularity, but in different directions.

Caste to decide OPS’ fate?

The strategy of OPS after the meeting is largely outspoken. Being a Maravar (from the Thevar community), OPS has adopted his old strategy of meeting his supporters from the community.

As a result, over 50 outfits representing the Mukkulathor community (also known as Thevars) have spread across southern Tamil Nadu and urged unity among OPS, VK Sasikala, and TTV Dhinakaran of the Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam (AMMK).

EPS expelled these three leaders, all belonging to the Thevar community, from the AIADMK on different occasions.

This particular community is influential in 60 Assembly seats in southern Tamil Nadu and in a few central districts.

However, OPS’ gameplan to regain the party with his community’s support has assumed significance as his rival EPS is said to have been backed by his own community — the Vellalar Gounder.

Members from the Thevar community told South First that OPS is likely to be backed by his community if TTV Dhinakaran and his aunt Sasikala join him.

But, U Thaniyarasu, president of Tamil Nadu Kongu Ilaignar Peravai and former MLA from the Paramathi Velur constituency, told South First: “Even though the Thevar community backs OPS, his expulsion from the party sent a solid message to the community.”

He claimed the community members’ faith in OPS had deteriorated, and that they might not support him in the coming days.

In the 2021 Assembly election, the AIADMK had won 18 seats in the South compared to 38 in the West, which is why the community may not back OPS, Thaniyarasu said.

No permanent rivals in politics 

KC Palanisamy, a former MP who was expelled from the AIADMK, told South First that there are no permanent political rivals.

“The three expelled leaders are now aware of the natural face of EPS. I suspect the trio may join hands any time, and then there are chances for the Thevar community to back them for the 2024 general election,” he said.

He also said the party would split again and move towards a polity driven by castes and communities. Asked if that was not the case in the AIADMK, Palanisamy, or KCP, didn’t respond.

Tamil Nadu has always been caste-centric when it came to politics.

Prominent leaders like Karunanidhi, J Jayalalithaa, MGR, and Anna fielded candidates who had strong support in caste-dominated constituencies, said the politician.

However, KCP also stressed that the expulsion of OPS had made the Thevar community search for a new leader, and he can only gain support if TTV and Sasikala join him.

OPS-TTV-Sasikala reunion? 

Recently, OPS supporter Syed Khan, who is also the AIADMK’s Theni district secretary, met TTV at Andipatti Kanavai on Sunday, 7 August, sparking questions about the arrival of Sasikala to the party.

The meeting between TTV and Khan might be friendly, too, according to V Pugazhenthi, an ousted AIADMK functionary and supporter of OPS.

“It is wrong to say the Thevar community is searching for a leader other than OPS. The EPS faction spreads misinformation about the community, but we know the ground reality. OPS is still accepted everywhere,” he told South First.

Pugazhenthi said OPS would eventually take a call on joining hands with Sasikala, and there was no wrong in that as the only aim was to save the party.

Asked about his response to EPS’ allegation that OPS had purportedly destroyed the party’s headquarters to secure his position, Pugazhenthi said it was EPS who removed Jayalalithaa from the AIADMK’s eternal general secretary post to appoint himself interim general secretary, adding that he was obsessed with positions.

“EPS can do anything to secure them,” he claimed.

Theni Karnan, a close aide of Sasikala, expressed similar views.


While the OPS side looks to take over the AIADMK, EPS is continuing to attack both OPS and the ruling DMK.

Since he assumed charge as the interim general secretary of AIADMK, EPS has attacked DMK even more.

“Mr Stalin, do you think I’m the old Palaniswami?” he asked the Tamil Nadu chief minister after assuming the AIADMK interim general secretary post, sending signals to party cadres that he was a more assertive, imposing leader.

He alleged that the DMK had chased away investments in the state due to its arrogance and indifference.

In a statement, he pointed to reports about the Foxconn-Vedanta joint venture’s ₹2 lakh crore investment to set up a semiconductor and display fabrication manufacturing unit.

The firms held talks with Tamil Nadu and other states and finally signed an agreement with Maharashtra a few days ago.

Some have claimed that the firm moved to Maharashtra due to corruption in Tamil Nadu.

EPS alleged that the government’s attitude had put a question mark on the future of youngsters in Tamil Nadu.

As for suicides due to the addiction to gambling apps like online rummy in the state, EPS alleged that the DMK was a non-performing party.

He said MK Stalin’s government did not value the lives of the people in the state.

On the law-and-order issue due to the death of a Class 12 girl in Kallakurichi, EPS said the intelligence department remained inert.

Addressing reporters after casting his vote at the secretariat for the presidential election, EPS said the violence was the outcome of the lethargy of the DMK government.

“The government failed to do its duty in safeguarding the people. It is an inactive government,” he said.

However, senior politician Ponnaiyan told South First that there was no talk about joining hands with Sasikala, and that would never happen.

Posts for EPS loyalists 

Days after becoming the party’s interim general secretary, EPS rewarded his loyalists with key positions.

He appointed KP Munuswamy and Natham R Viswanathan as the party’s deputy general secretaries.

Ponnaiyan was made secretary ost of Anaithulaga MGR Mandram.

A few former ministers were also rewarded with new positions. The move seems to have been aimed at gaining support from all over the state, said political analyst Raveendran Duraisamy.