Tamil Nadu

AIADMK leaders speak in favour of ‘single leadership’

AIADMK co-coordinator Edappadi K. Palaniswami, left, and party coordinator O. Panneerselvam. File photo

AIADMK co-coordinator Edappadi K. Palaniswami, left, and party coordinator O. Panneerselvam. File photo

Less than a year after the AIADMK decided to elect its coordinator and co-coordinator by a “single vote” to retain the dual leadership system, many of its district secretaries and senior functionaries at an internal meeting on Tuesday spoke in favour of a “unitary leadership” in the party.

At the four-and-a-half-hour meeting, held at the party headquarters in Chennai to finalise the agenda for the next week’s meetings of the general council and the executive, a large number of a total of around 160 participants batted for a “single leadership”. 

Though the concept of “single leadership” was nothing new, the timing of the reiteration of the demand assumed significance against the backdrop of the general council and executive meetings scheduled for June 23. 

While a majority of those present emphasised the need for the return to the “single leadership”, a few of the participants specifically mentioned the name of co-coordinator Edappadi K. Palaniswami to steer the AIADMK. A couple of others, including J.C.D. Prabhakar, Manoj Pandian and Vaigaichelvan, struck a discordant view, saying the party should not repeat “mistakes” that it committed at the time of the Assembly election last year and coordinator O Panneerselvam, who also took part at the meeting, should not be sidelined, according to a cross-section of the participants.  

It all began with Tiruvallur (East) district secretary and former Dairy Development Minister V. Moorthy raising the issue at a time when many thought the day’s event was about to conclude.

Earlier, Mr. Palaniswami and Mr. Panneerselvam explained that special invitees, numbering around 2,500, would not be invited to the general council meeting, as the idea was to inform the Election Commission of the completion of all formalities for the organisational elections and the ratification of the poll process in the presence of the elected district secretaries and general council members.  (A veteran pointed out that the practice of having special invitees at the general council meeting was a norm when Jayalalithaa was the general secretary).

There were also indications of the nature of deliberations even before the meeting began at the party headquarters, as members of the two groups, owing allegiance to the coordinator and the co-coordinator, raising slogans in support of the system of “single leadership”. D. Jayakumar, the party’s organisation secretary and former Minister, asserted that the discussions were held in a “healthy manner” and the party had again demonstrated its “hallmark of military discipline”.

Asked whether the issue would figure at the next week’s meetings, he replied that the matter was discussed at the day’s event and “a majority” of those present agreed that there should be “single leadership” for the party.  “What happened today was an exchange of views. However, it is for the party to give effect to it.” 

A senior leader from a southern district, who is for “single leadership”, says it is for the party coordinator to decide how he will adapt himself to the new reality. “Some of the seniors like me have told them [Mr. Palaniswami and Mr. Panneerselvam] that they can sort out among themselves the scheme of power sharing,” he points out, adding there are precedents in the DMK as well as in the AIADMK for a smooth resolution of similar issues. 

After the death of DMK founder and former Chief Minister C.N. Annadurai in February 1969, V. R. Nedunchezhiyan took some time but he eventually agreed to work under M. Karunanidhi, both in the government and the party. Likewise, after the drubbing of her faction of the AIADMK in the January 1989 Assembly election, Janaki Ramachandran settled for the merger of her faction with that of Jayalalithaa, the AIADMK’s leader from the south recalls. 

Those who are part of the Palaniswami camp say two recent developments — the meeting the party’s Theni MP and Mr. Panneerselvam’s son, P. Raveendranath Kumar, had with Chief Minister M.K.Stalin and the manner in which the party’s former Ramanathapuram district secretary, R. Dharmar, was chosen for one of the two Rajya Sabha seats — did not go down well with the camp. There has been a “feeling of discomfort” over the  Panneerselvam camp “walking away with a considerable share” of the positions in the party that is “disproportionate to its strength”. 

The Panneerselvam group is of the view that its leader has all along been “accommodative” of concerns and demands of the other camp and “it is all for the unity of the party”. Keeping all this in mind, he should be treated “honourably”, according to the group.

A veteran from the western districts feels every attempt will be made to ensure that the party stays united, as everyone knows disunity will only strengthen the hands of the party’s principal adversary, DMK.

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Printable version | Jul 26, 2022 9:26:35 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/aiadmk-leaders-speak-in-favour-of-single-leadership/article65527723.ece