Tamil Nadu

AIADMK issues gag order to leaders

The poster that appeared in parts of Theni on August 15, 2020. Photo: Special Arrangement  

The week-long debate within the ruling AIADMK over the party’s Chief Ministerial candidate for 2021 briefly threatened to get out of hand on Saturday with posters appearing in Theni projecting Deputy Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam for the job.

Following a truce thrashed out by a group of Ministers who held separate meetings with Mr. Panneerselvam, also party coordinator, and Edappadi K. Palaniswami, Chief Minister and AIADMK co-coordinator, the leaders restrained functionaries from expressing their personal views through the media. They warned of action against those violating the diktat.

The drama lasted nearly five hours. The day’s developments began with some senior Ministers having confabulation briefly at the chamber of Fisheries Minister D. Jayakumar at Fort St. George around 10 a.m., after attending the Independence Day celebrations. The Ministers included K.A. Sengottaiyan, Dindigul C. Sreenivasan, P. Thangamani, C.Ve. Shanmugam and S.P. Velumani. Subsequently, at 11.45 a.m., they were closeted with the Deputy Chief Minister for about 90 minutes at the latter’s residence on Greenways Road. They then met Mr. Palaniswami, whose residence is located nearby, for about 30 minutes. The Ministers held another round of discussions with the two leaders.

Mr. Panneerselvam and Mr. Palaniswami met each other during the I-Day event where the former, being Finance Minister, received an award from the latter for having implemented a modernisation programme in the Treasuries and Accounts department, which comes under the jurisdiction of the Finance department.

What triggered the developments was posters projecting Mr. Panneerselvam for the post of Chief Minister, appearing in Kenjampatti village of the Bodinayackanur panchayat union in Theni district. The posters were reported to have been removed later, as this was “not approved” by Mr. Panneerselvam, according to a senior leader considered close to him.

Earlier in the week, Cooperation Minister Sellur K. Raju triggered the debate saying that the issue of the next Chief Minister would be resolved at a meeting of the AIADMK legislature party. A day later, Dairy Development Minister K.T. Rajenthra Bhalaji, in a tweet, declared that Mr. Palaniswami was the Chief Ministerial candidate, which had apparently upset followers of Mr. Panneerselvam.

On Wednesday, senior leaders and Ministers had met at the AIADMK party office, after which Deputy Coordinator K.P. Munusamy said the party leadership would formally announce the CM candidate at the appropriate time. Mr. Panneerselvam, in a tweet on Thursday, called for unity.

Incidentally, Mr. Raju and Mr. Bhalaji, despite being in Chennai, were conspicuous by their absence in the meeting of Ministers.

The week also saw a virtual spar between the AIADMK and its ally, BJP, over which of the two should head the alliance for the Assembly polls.

Mr. Palaniswami and Mr. Panneerselvam’s joint statement, alluded to the discussions over the party’s 2021 face and the issue of alliance with the BJP. Observations of certain office bearers, made without “provocation,” had become “subject matters of debates.” To avoid this, the party members should exercise “military discipline,” while adhering to decisions of the party leadership, as they did when Jayalalithaa was at the helm of affairs of the AIADMK, the two leaders pointed out.

What did not go unnoticed among sections of the party was that the statement did not address the principal issue: who the party’s candidate was for the post of Chief Minister.

Union Cabinet

Apart from the immediate issues, the selection of the party’s nominee to be inducted into the Union Council of Ministers has been a matter of speculation within the AIADMK. This has got revived in the last 10 days with the talk of the Union Cabinet getting expanded shortly doing the rounds.

The names of first-time Theni MP and Deputy Chief Minister’s son, O. P. Raveendranath Kumar, and former Housing Minister R. Vaithilingam, are being mentioned as possible candidates for long. Former Lok Sabha Deputy Speaker M. Thambi Durai, and former State Local Administration Minister K.P. Munusamy, both recently elected to the Rajya Sabha, are said to be other aspirants.

Independent of the developments, J. Poongunran Sankaralingam, who had worked as a personal aide of Jayalalithaa at her Poes Garden residence, in his Facebook account, published the photograph of former AIADMK MP V. Maitreyan along with Jayalalithaa, and stated that it was regrettable that Dr. Maitreyan, [identified in the post as a Brahmin] was not given a “high position” in the party.

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Printable version | Oct 23, 2021 1:54:32 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/aiadmk-issues-gag-order-to-leaders-edappadi-palaniswami-paneerselvam-issue-joint-statement/article32362014.ece

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