Tamil Nadu

Panneerselvam comes out openly against single leadership demand in AIADMK

Chennai, 21/03/2022, For  City: Former Chief Minister AIADMK O. Panneerselvam appears in the Arumugasamy Anaiyam Kalasa Mahal, Chepauk. Photo and Video: Karunakaran M

Chennai, 21/03/2022, For City: Former Chief Minister AIADMK O. Panneerselvam appears in the Arumugasamy Anaiyam Kalasa Mahal, Chepauk. Photo and Video: Karunakaran M | Photo Credit: KARUNAKARAN M

AIADMK coordinator O. Panneerselvam on Thursday came out openly against the scheme of ‘single leadership’ to steer the party, which was mooted by certain functionaries on Tuesday, and emphasised that this was not the right time for the matter to be pursued. 

Breaking his silence on the issue, Mr. Panneerselvam, who met mediapersons late in the day at his Greenways Road residence in Chennai, along with deputy coordinator R. Vaithilingam, MLA Manoj Pandian and steering committee member J.C.D. Prabhakar, said the debate would only create confusion among the party workers, a scenario which he would like to avoid at any cost. Besides, at the general council meeting in September 2017, a resolution was adopted to the effect that former Chief Minister Jayalalithaa was the permanent general secretary and hence, the post stood abolished.  “Any move to revive the post would be seen as a mark of betrayal to Amma [Jayalalithaa],” he argued, adding the arrangement of ‘dual leadership’ was going on smoothly all these years.  The top priority of the party should be to “re-establish Amma’s rule”.

Besides, the Election Commission had given its approval for the present system of electing the coordinator and the co-coordinator by the primary members of the party through a single vote. Based on the development, the organisational elections had taken place at all levels and a meeting of the general council had been called for June 23 to ratify the entire election process. “What is the need for the issue to crop up at this juncture?” Mr. Panneerselvam wondered, criticising the party’s organisation secretary and former Minister, D. Jayakumar, for the media briefing he did after a meeting of the district secretaries and other senior functionaries at the party headquarters. 

The controversy erupted after Mr. Jayakumar told the media that a majority of the district secretaries and other senior functionaries, who participated at the meeting, had spoken in favour of ‘single leadership’. Mr. Panneerselvam maintained that it was former Minister Madhavaram V. Moorthy who had raked up the issue, which was not on the agenda of the meeting. 

On the scope for rapprochement with the camp led by co-coordinator Edappadi K Palaniswami, the coordinator said he would not stand on his ego to discuss the issue with him and sort it out amicably.  “On several occasions, I had spoken to him on many matters,” he said.  At the same time, he made it clear no resolution could be brought in the general council in favour of unitary leadership unless it was approved by him and Mr. Palaniswami.

When senior functionaries met him in the last couple of days, he had made certain suggestions. “Let there be a 14-member committee, consisting of veterans who have been in the party since the days of Thalaivar [founder M.G .Ramachandran] and Amma.  Let the proposed panel take decisions on all matters regarding the party.  He [Mr. Palaniswami] and I can endorse them. 

Giving an account of the circumstances in which he decided to merge his group — AIADMK (Puratchi Thalaivi Amma) — with the camp led by Mr. Palaniswami,  the coordinator said he did it in the interests of workers and the party unity. “I have never hankered after any position of power. I can neither be sidelined nor be separated from the workers,” he asserted.  

He said he was not keen on being the Deputy Chief Minister then. The Indian Constitution did not sanction such a post and it did not entail the powers of a Chief Minister but was just a designation, he said, adding that he accepted it only at the behest of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Asked why the Theni district unit had not adopted a resolution against the sidelined former interim general secretary, V.K. Sasikala,  the coordinator, who hails from the district, replied that one had the right to express one’s opinion. As for taking Ms. Sasikala back into the party, he reiterated his stand that it was for the party’s senior office-bearers to decide. 

Earlier, Mr. Panneerselvam took part in the deliberations of the resolution drafting committee, which met at the party headquarters. Minutes before his arrival, Mr. Jayakumar, who was at the centre of the controversy, had left the party office after participating at the meeting. Expressing the confidence that the general council would hold its meeting as scheduled, the former Minister said any decision on the party matter would be taken only “through a consensus”.  The view in favour of single leadership might or might not be translated into action, he added.

Jayakumar heckled

A section of supporters of AIADMK convener O. Panneerselvam heckled Mr. Jayakumar on Thursday as the latter was leaving the party office in Chennai after a meeting with leaders, including co-convener Edappadi K. Palaniswami.

While Mr. Jayakumar was in his car, Mr. Paneerselvam’s supporters waylaid it and abused him.

In the meantime, a local functionary of the party lodged a complaint with the Royapettah police seeking to provide more bandobust to the party office.

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Printable version | Jul 15, 2022 7:15:23 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/panneerselvam-comes-out-openly-against-single-leadership-demand-in-aiadmk/article65534214.ece