The AIADMK’s deposed coordinator, O. Panneerselvam, on Saturday, January 21, 2023, announced that he would put up a candidate in the Erode (East) by-election, scheduled for February 27.
Addressing a press conference at his residence in Chennai, Mr. Panneerselvam also offered to extend support to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the event of the national party deciding to enter the fray.
As for his group’s decision, he observed that “as on date,” he remained in the post of coordinator [of the AIADMK]. As per the organisational election held in December 2021, he and Edappadi K. Palaniswami would hold the posts of coordinator and co-coordinator till 2026. “We have got full rights to stake claim over the ‘Two Leaves’ symbol,” he asserted.
At the party’s general council meeting held on July 11, Mr. Palaniswami was elected the interim general secretary while Panneerselvam was expelled from the party. The Supreme Court is yet to give its ruling on an appeal preferred by the deposed coordinator against the verdict of the Madras High Court’s division bench, which had quashed the order of a single judge of the High Court, who had nullified the general council meeting.
Answering a volley of questions, Mr. Panneerselvam said he would put his signature on the nomination papers for the by-poll and “it is up to him [Mr Palaniswami] whether to sign or not.” He recalled that at the time of by-elections to local bodies in July last, he had appended his signature on the nomination forms whereas Mr. Palaniswami did not. So, he was “not responsible” for the situation of the party’s members not being able to contest on the symbol of two leaves.
Elaborating on his offer of support to the BJP, Mr. Panneerselvam pointed out that Erode East was not a constituency where the AIADMK had contested in the 2021 Assembly elections. [It was assigned to the Tamil Maanila Congress (Moopanar), whose nominee faced the polls on the symbol of the AIADMK]. As the TMC (M) had decided not to put up its nominee, “every ally” of the AIADMK had “a right” to express its desire to contest, Mr. Panneerselvam explained.
The former coordinator added that for the by-election, he would seek the support of all those who had fought the 2021 elections along with the AIADMK.
Later, Mr. Panneeraselvam, accompanied by his colleagues, met the TMC (M) leader G.K. Vasan and the BJP’s State president K. Annamalai to seek their support.