Chaotic AIADMK general council meeting reiterates demand for single leadership

Council rejects 23 resolutions; next meeting on July 11

June 23, 2022 12:48 pm | Updated 08:37 pm IST - CHENNAI:

AIADMK leaders  Edappadi K. Palaniswami and O. Panneerselvam at the party’s general council meeting near Chennai on June 23, 2022.

AIADMK leaders  Edappadi K. Palaniswami and O. Panneerselvam at the party’s general council meeting near Chennai on June 23, 2022. | Photo Credit: Vedhan M.

Restrained by a Division Bench of the Madras High Court at the crack of dawn from taking any decision on restoring unitary leadership in the party, the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) executive and general council that met under chaotic circumstances on the outskirts of Chennai on Thursday could not deliberate on the demand for electing former Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami as its supreme leader.

Party coordinator and three-time former Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam, who is opposed to amending the dual leadership structure in the AIADMK, faced a hostile situation and stood hopelessly outnumbered at the general council, and left in a huff with his few supporters before the meeting concluded.

In an unprecedented act, party deputy coordinator K. P. Munusamy and steering committee member C. Ve. Shanmugam, both supporters of Mr. Palaniswami, declared that all 23 resolutions on the agenda were summarily “rejected” by the general council, which was welcomed with loud cheering and thunderous applause. The meeting lasted about 45 minutes and Tamilmagan Hussain, who was elevated from interim presidium chairman to permanent presidium chairman at the meeting, announced the general council would meet again at the same venue at 9.30 a.m. on July 11, when it would discuss the demand for “unitary leadership” in the party (after overcoming legal hurdles).

Mr. Shanmugam, a former Law Minister, submitted a memorandum — which he said was signed by 2,190 general council members — to Mr. Hussain, with a request that the need for a single leader be discussed at the next general council meet.

Explaining the content of the memorandum, he said the party has suffered setbacks (in the elections) due to dual leadership. Also, the party was unable to counter the ruling DMK's politics. Due to this, the party cadre, functionaries and public were disappointed and shocked. Dual leadership was confusing and contradictory, leading to fatigue in the party, Mr. Shanmugam said.

For the party to survive long as envisioned by the late former Chief Ministers M.G. Ramachandran and Amma (Jayalalithaa), it needed a brave leader with clear thinking, he said. Therefore, the next general council should deliberate on removing dual leadership and resolve to work under a single leader, Mr. Shanmugam said, urging Mr. Hussain to fix the date for the next meeting of the general council.

According to sources, the “rejected” resolutions pertained to seeking ratification of the council for the organisational polls, including the election of Mr. Panneerselvam and Mr. Palaniswami in 2021 to the posts of coordinator and co-coordinator, respectively, apart from praising the Central government for its people welfare measures, and condemning the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) government for its “anti-people policies”.

EPS’ show of strength

It was a show of strength for Mr. Palaniswami’s leadership on Thursday. All the roads leading to the venue and a majority of the council were full of his supporters. The mantle could not be passed though, due to the High Court order. A visibly irritated Mr. Palaniswami refused to be garlanded during the meeting.

Mr. Panneerselvam, who had moved the High Court against any amendment to usher in unitary leadership, was not welcomed at the meeting at all. There were shouts of “don’t come” when he entered. He looked lonely and lost in his chair on stage and walked out when the date for the next general council meeting was announced. His supporter and party deputy coordinator R. Vaithilingam alleged that the meeting was not in accordance with law and therefore invalid.

There was palpable tension in the hall in which Mr. Palaniswami’s supporters frequently vented their anger by shouting slogans against Mr. Panneerselvam. A water bottle was also tossed towards the stage. Even as Mr. Panneerselvam left the venue, some party men tried to gherao him, shouting, “We want a single leader.”

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