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United we stand, divided we rule

On Wednesday, the Madras High Court gave its nod to the party organisers to proceed with the meet, maintaining that the Court cannot intervene and restrict the AIADMK GC from amending its party by-laws.

United we stand, divided we rule

CHENNAI: With the meeting of the AIADMK’s General and Executive Councils set to be held today, the clamour for single leadership in the party has peaked in the rival camps of both Edappadi Palaniswami and O Panneerselvam.

On Wednesday, the Madras High Court gave its nod to the party organisers to proceed with the meet, maintaining that the Court cannot intervene and restrict the AIADMK GC from amending its party by-laws.

It might be recalled that party co-ordinator O Panneerselvam had urged the police to deny permission to the party’s GC meet, citing law and order concerns. The petition had also been turned down by the police.

Tempers were running high and this was evident in the skirmishes that took place at the party headquarters in Royapettah when the AIADMK’s resolution drafting committee met last week.

While O Panneerselvam attended the meeting, Palaniswami decided to skip it, leading to speculation yet again that there might be a rift between the two leaders, proving their critics right.

A week ago, stepping out of the meeting of the AIADMK district secretaries and headquarters functionaries held to discuss the agenda for GC, former minister and AIADMK spokesperson D Jayakumar announced that a majority of the district secretaries and other office bearers pressed for single leadership as a need of the hour, but denied any talks on who that leader would be.

Since then, speculation has been rife on who would be that leader to take charge of the approximately 1.5 crore cadre and steer the AIADMK forward in the coming years.

In December 2020, the AIADMK formally elected O Panneerselvam as party coordinator and Edappadi K Palaniswami as co-coordinator, cementing the dual leadership that had been put in place in February 2017 following the death of J Jayalalithaa. While OPS was at the helm of party affairs, he had to concede the Chief Minister’s post to Palaniswami and became deputy CM. Since then, the AIADMK has faced the 2021 Assembly polls as well as the state-wide urban and rural local body polls where the party lost to DMK under the dual leadership model. Questions were raised on whether the dual leadership, which was effective in avoiding a split in the AIADMK following Jayalalithaa’s demise and helped the party complete a full term, could help the party win the elections. Or does the AIADMK need a strong one-person-command to rouse the cadre to fight electoral battles more effectively?

In the meeting held to decide the agenda for the GC, the overwhelming demand for a need to revisit the dual leadership in the party could also have been a fallout of the developments over past few weeks when BJP’s Annamalai and PMK’s Anbumani have been attacking the primary Opposition party for not raking up people’s issues effectively and EPS-OPS going about defending their role as the main Opposition in the legislative assembly. Since this clamour for single leadership came out in the open, both EPS and OPS have now been showing their strengths among the AIADMK cadre by trying to pull district secretaries to the respective camps in the run up to the GC meet.

Five years ago, when the duo took charge of the party and the government, speculation was rife on its capability to take the AIADMK forward. But as Jayakumar mentioned recently, the difference in vote share between the AIADMK and DMK has been merely about 3 % and all they need to cover is a little more ground. With the Parliament elections just about two years away, this GC meet might be the right occasion to take a concrete decision on the top party leadership and how to pilot the party to an electoral win, which the dual leadership is yet to provide. In democratic institutions, as always, a keen ear on the collective voice of the cadre and people are paramount.

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