OPS vs EPS: Battle in AIADMK reaches Election Commission, banks

Chennai: The fight between ousted AIADMK leader O Panneerselvam and party interim head Edappadi K Palaniswami is now with the Election Commission and banks, with both sides determined to establish their rights. While interim General Secretary Palaniswami has apprised the EC about the July 11 General Council meeting and the changes effected, Panneerselvam has written to the poll panel arguing that the proceedings and its decisions were null and void.

Palaniswami was elevated to his present position of interim chief and Panneerselvam and two of his supporters were expelled in the party’s highest decision-making body on Monday.

Besides urging the Tamil Nadu Assembly Secretariat to not accept or effect any changes in the AIADMK’s legislative party’s current composition, Panneerselvam has also written to banks. In the Assembly, Palaniswami is the leader of opposition and Paneerselvam is the deputy leader.

Panneerselvam has informed banks that he is the AIADMK’s ‘coordinator and treasurer’ and that no transactions could be made without his authorisation, party sources said. The party has various accounts including Fixed Deposits with at least 2 banks.

Palaniswami has written to banks that party veteran and former Minister, Dindigul C Srinivasan is the new AIADMK treasurer. Srinivasan is also the party’s organising secretary and Dindigul (West) district secretary.

Panneerselvam loyalist Vaithilingam told reporters: “Coordinator O Panneerselvam and Joint Coordinator K Palaniswami were elected by primary party members through a single vote as per norms and this cannot be nullified by the General Council. Their tenure is for 5 years. Not a single resolution passed in the (July 11) General Council is valid.”

Vaithilingam said Panneerselvam continued to be the party’s ‘coordinator’ and ‘treasurer’ and this is the official position as per records with the EC as well, he said adding a letter has been sent to authorities underscoring this aspect. Authorities have been urged not to accept the submissions of Palaniswami group.

Rejecting claims of Palaniswami supporters that it was Panneerselvam’s loyalists who resorted to violence, Vaithilingam said EPS followers were ‘camping’ for 5 days in the locality and violence was unleashed only by them. Palaniswami camp asserted that they would legally face issues that crop up.

V K Sasikala, confidante of late AIADMK supremo J Jayalalithaa, who is also trying to wrest control of the party said the current happenings in the party is a big mockery.

In the party history, its bylaws have not been amended so often, that too within a year, she said. “Whatever they are doing will not be legally valid. I would like to tell you that there will be a good solution soon,” she told her supporters in an event that saw the merger of her brother V Divakaran-led outfit with the team led by her. She said her only ambition is to ‘unifying’ everyone and leading the party towards victory. Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam is a separate outfit led by TTV Dhinakaran, who is nephew of Sasikala and Divarakan.

In December 2021, the AIADMK tweaked bylaws to strengthen the dual leadership structure and on July 11, it scrapped it and anointed Palaniswami as interim chief.

Political commentator M Bharat Kumar said the emerging scenario is on expected lines. “The matter is now with the Election Commission. As we have seen in the past, the authorities will look into the matter and may seek explanation from Palaniswami or Panneerselvam or both of them before they come to a conclusion.” Also, now that the party headquarters in Chennai is sealed and in the wake of police case against men belonging to both sides for violence, verbal duel shall be the order of the day for a considerable period of time. Connected party matters would also go to court, he added.