AIADMK tweaks bylaws, seeks to shut door on Sasikala, empowers party cadres again

The main opposition AIADMK in Tamil Nadu, which is facing challenge from eased out leader V K Sasikala, on Wednesday amended its bylaws to retain and strengthen the present leadership structure of top two positions held by O Panneerselvam and K Palaniswami.
AIADMK at the Executive Committee meet
AIADMK at the Executive Committee meet


Empowering ordinary party members again, to elect the top party leadership, is a key feature and in toto, such changes are apparently aimed at aiding the current AIADMK leadership in more ways than one.
The changes, effected in the Executive Committee meet held at the party headquarters here are expected to help the leadership in important legal matters. While a case against the AIADMK leadership by Sasikala is pending in a court here, another matter is in the Delhi High Court, wherein former MP and expelled leader, K C Palanisamy is the petitioner.
Also, the move is seen as aimed at bringing 'power parity' between Panneerselvam and Palaniswami, coordinator and joint coordinator respectively of the party and try to preempt intra-party wranglings seen in the past over 'dual leadership.' While several sections of the party had favoured Palaniswami, others had thrown their weight behind Panneerselvam.
The first amendment mandates a 'single vote' by 'primary members' to elect the top leadership, which is the two positions of coordinator and joint coordinator. The changes adopted in the EC meet makes it clear the coordinator and joint coordinator would be elected by party's primary members. While the posts are two, there cannot be separate votes, as the twin positions together constitute the party top leadership, effectively a single entity.
A case filed by Sasikala, challenging the 2017 AIADMK general council resolutions, including removing her from the post of interim general secretary, is pending in a Chennai city civil court and the matter is expected to be heard this month.
Expelled leader Palanisamy's grounds -in the matter pending in Delhi HC- includes violation of bylaws in respect of decisions made at the 2017 general council meet and he had contended that AIADMK rules allowed election of top leadership only by primary members.
That year, the party General Council resolved that late leader J Jayalalithaa would be the 'eternal general secretary' which in effect abolished that top party post and instead created a fresh leadership structure comprising two new posts of coordinator and joint coordinator, which was approved by the GC meet.
Voices against this move arose, as the two leaders Panneerselvam and Palaniswami were not elected by ordinary party members but only appointed to the two new posts. It was argued by a section within the party that such a move went against the party's constitution.
As chaos surfaced in the party following the demise of its supremo Jayalalithaa in December 2016 and later, the leadership question also led to a legal battle in the Delhi High Court (V K Sasikala and others) and claims and counter-claims were also made in the Election Commission.
Eventually, after they buried the hatchet, the AIADMK leadership under Panneerselvam and Palaniswami obtained due recognition for the party's name, flag and symbol. The AIADMK's EC meet also harped on 'unity,' and strengthening the 'hands of party's top leaders' and to work hard to win future elections. The amendments to bylaws also effectively closes the door on Sasikala, who has claimed to be the party 'general secretary,' a post last held by Jayalalithaa.
The commencement of the year long golden jubilee celebrations of the AIADMK on October 17 witnessed a vigorous attempt by Sasikala, confidante of Jayalalithaa, to get back control of the party, when she declared herself as its general secretary, which was strongly resisted by the party leadership.
According to the AIADMK, Sasikala is not a member of the party, though she has claimed to be the general secretary. Senior leader D Jayakumar told reporters only those who have been primary members for five years or more are eligible to vote to elect the party leadership.
The next amendment makes it clear the fundamental rule that the party leadership can only be elected by the primary AIADMK members could neither be changed nor modified or revised.
The third amendment declares that 'exemption' or 'relaxation' cannot be made to the basic norm of members alone electing the AIADMK leadership. The fresh amendments to bylaw takes immediate effect, a special resolution adopted for this purpose at the EC meet said adding approval would be sought for such decisions in the next party general council meeting.
The special resolution to make amendments were proposed by seven senior leaders including the two deputy coordinators KP Munusamy and R Vaithilingam besides veterans, KA Sengottaiyan and C Ponnaiyan, both party organising secretaries. The resolution was adopted unanimously, being seconded by all the executive committee members.
In the AIADMK's EC meet, as many as 11 other resolutions were also adopted including the one that harped on 'unity' mantra and another that appealed to the cadres to slog for victory in the urban civic polls, expected to be held soon.

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