CHENNAI: The O. Panneerselvam (OPS) faction of the AIADMK facing challenges after most of the party district secretaries showed their allegiance to the Edappadi K. Palaniswami group, is trying to play the Thevar card and get the support of former interim general secretary of the party V.K. Sasikala.
While Sasikala is out of the party and several second-rung leaders have come out in the open against her reinduction, she has clout among several of the cadre.
The Panneerselvam faction is trying to rake up the Thevar card and the strengthen the community wields in South Tamil Nadu. A subtle campaign has already commenced in south Tamil Nadu, that the only Thevar face in the upper echelons of power in the AIADMK, is being systematically disarmed and shunted to a corner in the party.
It is to be noted that both Sasikala and Panneerselvam are from the Thevar community which has a major say in the power politics of Tamil Nadu. South Tamil Nadu area has always been a fiefdom of the AIADMK but in the recent Urban local body elections, the party fared poorly in many parts of South Tamil Nadu including in the home district of Panneerselvam, Theni.
The OPS faction is hoping that Sasikala may make some smart moves among the Thevar community and put pressure on the Edappadi K. Palaniswami (EPS) faction to not press ahead single power centre in AIADMK in the general and executive council of the party to be held on Thursday, June 23.
Most of the party district secretaries and former ministers have extended support to the EPS and their demand is that the party has gone down due to the present system of dual leadership and instead if a single leader is projected the party can come out in flying colours. This suggestion is not acceptable to the OPS faction but with no support coming from the party district-level leaders, the former Chief Minister is on a sticky wicket and has approached Sasikala to throw her weight for him.
Dr R. Padmanabhan, Director, Socio-Economic Development Foundation, a think tank based out of Madurai, and a political analyst while speaking to IANS said, "The condition of Panneerselvam is now pathetic and if he does not do a surgical move, he will be out of the reckoning. Sasikala has a connect among the grass-root cadre as well as in the powerful Thevar community to which both she and OPS belongs. However, it has to be seen whether the last-minute move would fetch any positive results for Panneerselvam to save his face."
The OPS faction had tried its best to scuttle the general council meeting to be held on Thursday but the dominant faction led by EPS is insisting that the meeting is held on June 23 itself and move ahead under a single leadership.