Midnight Court Drama Sheds Hope on New Dawn for OPS as Jayalalithaa’s Man Friday Gears Up for Battle

Ever since the death of J Jayalalithaa in December 2016, Chennai has developed a penchant for midnight drama.

Or so it would seem.

The death of former DMK chief M Karunanidhi and the ensuing legal struggle for his burial in August 2018 involved an all-night drama in the state’s politics that few would forget.

In a similar fashion, the crisis of AIADMK coordinator O Panneerselvam deepened on Wednesday midnight, forcing him to move an urgent hearing against a single-judge order refusing the put off the General Council meeting tipped to elevate Palaniswami as the leader of the party — as opposed to the dual leadership structure followed since Jayalalithaa died.

With all doors shut for O Panneerselvam, his last resort was to challenge the single bench order. Around 11.30pm, OPS and his team sought an urgent hearing with a bench headed by Justice M Duraiswamy.

Even as the judges and counsels were ready by 1am, the hearing began only around 2.45am as the case bundle was yet to reach the judge’s residence from the High Court. It may be noted that as per procedure, the appeal papers must be filed in the registry, scrutinised and numbered.

Cut to the residence of OPS: Over 20 cadre were patiently waiting at the entrance while OPS was taking rest on the second floor of the apartment and two of his loyalists — Manoj Pandian and R Vaithilingam — were waiting in another room, tracking the case.

Some of the cadre gathered at the residence of OPS were lashing out at EPS and chanted slogans like “God is with us” and “OPS Anna is the true leader”.

Even as the case was processing, the cadre milled about in tense anticipation, asking reporters for constant updates. The hearing went on for over one-and-a-half hours; anyone would get restless and the cadre were no different. Hope, in suspended animation, was too much to bear.

When the court passed an order restraining the General Council from taking any decision on single leadership, the cadre started celebrations at OPS’ residence. More loyalists started to arrive at the residence. Many cadre hugged each other, distributed sweets and burst crackers in the wee hours.

OPS’ son arrived to congratulate his dad on this “victory”. OPS, who was till then taking rest, had a lot of visitors waiting to wish him. A few district secretaries and loyalists visited him at 5am. Some fell at his feet and greeted him with a shawl.

OPS told News 18.com: “I will attend the General council. I have to prepare a speech for the meeting now.”

For a man who had so much stacked again him, politically, it was a decent break to what appeared to be another day of rollercoaster political events. For Jayalalithaa’s Man Friday, it was a make-or-break day in politics.

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