Two top leaders from Tamil Nadu’s main opposition party AIADMK are fighting for control. The matter has even been referred to the highest courts. The long-running internal power struggle could be ended by a crucial meeting on Monday.
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The Madras High Court will pronounce its order today at 9 am on a plea by top AIADMK leader O Panneerselvam or OPS to stall a crucial party meeting which will decide the future leadership structure of the party. Although the meeting is set to start at 9:15, the court would issue its orders at 9 am.
O Paneerselvam (or OPS) and Edappadi K Palaniswami (or EPS) have been arguing for months over the operation of the party. The former wants the current model of joint leadership to continue, while the latter seeks a single leadership, with him as the party’s General Secretary.
OPS was once seen as the political heir to late party chief J Jayalalithaa, while EPS received overwhelming support from party workers.
Jayalalithaa had twice selected OPS as her stand-in chief minister after her conviction. Jayalalithaa was able to elevate OPS for the third time, just before her death. However, Jayalalithaa had briefly taken over the party from VK Sasikala after he rebelled against Jayalalithaa.
Both leaders then reacted to Sasikala’s imprisonment and expelled her. OPS was elected the party’s number one and EPS became his deputy. OPS was appointed Chief Minister EPS’s deputy in the government.
After a series electoral defeats, EPS said that the model wasn’t working. OPS however desperately sought courts to preserve power.
EPS told OPS, his rival, that he no longer serves as the party’s coordinator. EPS consolidated his position during his four-year tenure as chief minister and brought the party under him.
OPS has filed a petition to the Madras High Court seeking to stop the top decision-making authority of the party.
Team EPS was allowed to continue with the meeting on Wednesday by the Supreme Court. Team OPS argued that Team EPS’ conduct of the meeting was illegal and invalid. His lawyer stated that the bylaw only allows the coordinator and joint coordinator to convene the meeting.
Team EPS claims that the General Council didn’t ratify last month’s election of dual leadership. Therefore, a meeting to elect a General Secretary stand-in until the party’s internal elections is legal is necessary. It claims that decision-making was difficult under the dual leadership model. The party had suffered three successive poll defeats under the joint leadership model.