EPS Gets Legal Leg-Up In AIADMK Leadership Wrangle

New Delhi:

In the incessant leadership tussle in the AIADMK, the faction that wants a single leader in Edappadi K Palaniswamy or EPS – as opposed to a dual leadership system adopted after J Jayalalitha’s death – got a legal leg-up today. This is a setback for O Paneerselvam or OPS, the other leader in the AIADMK, Tamil Nadu’s main opposition party.

The Supreme Court, in its interim order today, halted the Madras High Court order that had restrained the AIADMK General Council from passing any “unannounced” resolutions on its leadership rules. The council had plans to amend the party bylaws and enable unitary leadership under EPS. But the other leader, O Paneerselvam or OPS, had gone to the high court, which stopped any such move in an interim order on June 23.

The Supreme Court today removed that hurdle. It said the party may continue to function as per decisions taken by the council, its highest decision-making body. It asked the OPS faction — which wants dual leadership to continue — to make its submissions in two weeks.

Both EPS and OPS are joint coordinators of the AIADMK for now, working as per a ceasefire adopted to stop infighting five years ago. Factionalism had threatened to break up the party after the death of the then chief minister Jayalalitha. The party has since lost power, and the infighting has got as bad as it was, if not worse.

The Supreme Court was today hearing EPS’s plea challenging the high court order that prevented the AIADMK General Council from amending bylaws to enable unitary leadership. The plea said that an attempt is being made “to stop internal democracy” by someone — a reference to joint leader OPS — who “does not even enjoy 2 per cent support in the party”.

The OPS faction told the Supreme Court that EPS wants to take over the party by undoing a dual leadership model “that has worked for the party for the last five years without any difficulty”.

But the court responded, “You will have to work out your friendships and your differences.”