CHENNAI: The executive and general council meeting of the AIADMK that took place on a chaotic Thursday morning last week on the outskirts of Chennai threw political observers, stakeholders and citizens for a loop, thanks to the unexpected nature of proceedings that transpired.
One of the key action items on the meeting, which was to deliberate on the demand to elect former chief minister Edappadi K Palaniswami as the supreme leader, failed to materialise.
In an ungodly hour on Thursday morning, a Division Bench of the Madras High Court barred the Dravidian major from taking any measures that would restore unitary leadership.
The deferment of that decision offered OPS a temporary reprieve from what seems to be an inevitable ouster from the collective leadership.
At the GC meet, he was clearly outnumbered and outgunned by the EPS camp, relegating him to the periphery of the party as team EPS literally bulldozed its way to make it loud and clear that the party owed its allegiance to one leader, EPS.
Palaniswami loyalists went on to declare all 23 resolutions on the agenda as rejected by the general council, laying the groundwork for the convening of yet another meeting on July 11.
But OPS has lashed out saying that the next GC meet would be illegal as it has not been signed off by him, the coordinator.
Sources also revealed that OPS might be filing a petition with the Election Commission regarding the violation of the bye-laws.
The appointment of Tamil Magan Hussain as the presidium chairman has also been highlighted as an act that qualifies as contempt of court.
Of course, the trouble OPS is facing is not an overnight development, but a stew that had been simmering for a long time now, more specifically since OPS’s sympathies had begun shifting to that other thorn in the AIADMK’s side — VK Sasikala. OPS’s ‘great respect’ for the ousted AIADMK general secretary, while garnering brownie points had rubbed team EPS the wrong way.
Other actions that appeared seemingly trivial at the outset but assumed significance in catalysing the deep divisions of the party include OPS’s son P Ravindranath calling on Chief Minister MK Stalin as the AIADMK high command was crying hoarse about failure and mismanagement of the government. OPS’s ‘heartfelt’ tributes to Kalaignar in the Assembly was also viewed by some political experts as currying favour with the enemy. At the GC meet, OPS was booed and even held responsible for the drubbing taken by the AIADMK at the Assembly elections held last year.
The probabilities of OPS’s fortunes turning around seem unlikely, considering how he has perpetually been relegated to the background. Even in the case of the late leader Jayalalithaa, OPS had lingered like a trusted lieutenant but had never managed to garner the kind of mass appeal that would enable him to emerge as the leader.
OPS’s sudden departure to New Delhi, ostensibly to support BJP’s presidential nominee, has also set the speculation mills working overtime. As far as electoral results go, the dual leadership mantra hasn’t borne fruit for the AIADMK.
In the event that OPS is forced out of the AIADMK, there is strong speculation that he might not hesitate to join forces with the likes of TTV Dhinakaran and Sasikala, if only to capitalise on his vote bank within the Thevar community.
Long story short, the AIADMK must brace itself for a tumultuous episode of infighting on account of the appointment of a general secretary.
It will be worth the wait to discover how a semblance of reason is restored to the proceedings in the days to come.