Is AIADMK dumping its minority vote bank?

Anwhar Raajhaa, former MP from Ramanathapuram district. was expelled from the party not just because he opposed the party's dependence on the BJP, but also due to his alleged closeness to V Sasikala

The recent ouster of two minority leaders by the AIADMK seem to be a signal that the party leadership is no longer keen to nurture their minority vote bank. Pic: PTI

The recent ouster of two minority leaders by the AIADMK seems to be a signal that the party leadership is no longer keen to nurture their minority vote bank.

The party has expelled key minority leaders such as Nilofer Kafil, former labour minister and Anwhar Raajhaa, former MP from Ramanathapuram district. The latter, who was reportedly against the party’s alliance with the BJP, was expelled a day before the party’s executive committee meeting held on December 1.

Anwhar Raajhaa. Twitter@AnwerRaja_MP

While this move is likely to impact the party’s minority vote bank, the AIADMK has tried to compensate the expulsion of the two leaders by making A Tamil Magan Hussain the interim Presidium chairman. The All World MGR club secretary, Hussain, was in the race for the Presidium chairman’s post.

AIADMK’s former minister D Jayakumar defended the expulsion of the two leaders from the party. He told reporters that statements made by any member who disturbs the unity of the party will be expelled.

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“We have 75 MLAs along with our allies. We got 1.10 crore votes in the Assembly election. There is only a 3 per cent vote share difference between the DMK and us. When the AIADMK and its allies are so united, if anyone tries to break the unity by speaking ill against the party they will be expelled,” he warned.

Raajhaa was thrown out not just because he rebelled against AIADMK’s dependence on the BJP, but he was allegedly viewed as a supporter of AIADMK’s former general secretary, VK Sasikala.

Also read: AIADMK changes bylaws again, restores power to cadres to elect leaders

Anwhar Raajhaa – A leader with vast experience

Anwhar Raajhaa was not an ordinary AIADMK member. He was one of the seniormost members of the party, and he still proudly carries a membership card signed by the AIADMK founder MG Ramachandran. According to political analyst Tharasu Shyam, Raajhaa had been with the AIADMK since its inception.

Back in the 1970s, he was the secretary of the MGR club at Sivagangai College and joined the party that MGR started in 1972.

“Between 1986 and 1991, he served as Mandapam Panchayat Union chairman. In 2001, he was elected to the legislative assembly and from 2001 to 2006, and even served as minister of labour and employment. A leader with such a long experience has been removed by the current leadership,” pointed out Shyam.

Commenting on the impact of Raajhaa’s removal, Shyam felt that the minority vote bank which had been supportive of AIADMK was gradually moving to the DMK.

“Stalin is now growing as a national level leader. If you want to counter him, you should also develop yourself to match his growth. But O Panneerselvam and Edappadi Palaniswami still remain as regional leaders. Neither OPS nor EPS can win in any other constituencies apart from their own, while Stalin is being accepted across the state. Frankly, AIADMK lacks a leader of such a stature,” he added.

Questioned about the value Tamil Magan Hussain brings to the table, Shyam said that as ‘interim Presidium chairman’, he can only play the role of a substitute. Whether OPS and EPS will make him Presidium Chairman remains to be seen and whether he will be accepted by the general council is also not yet certain.

Also read: HC order on Jayalalithaa’s Veda Nilayam is another blow to AIADMK

“As of now he has power to call for the next general council meeting. He cannot do much besides that,” observed Shyam. Despite repeated attempts by The Federal to contact Raajhaa, he was unavailable for comment.

History repeats itself

History seems to be repeating itself, claimed Shyam, on AIADMK leadership’s desperate move to change its bylaws to restore voting rights for primary cadres to chose their leaders.

According to him, when MGR had launched the party in 1972, the rule that the primary cadres should select the party leader did not exist. However, in 1973, after winning the Lok Sabha bypoll in Dindigul, many people joined the party.

“In 1975, during a general council and executive committee meeting held in Chidambaram, there was an effort to remove MGR from the party chief’s post. MGR feared that DMK chief Karunanidhi may instigate AIADMK party members to turn against him and hijack the party. In order to prevent any political hijacking, MGR brought the rule that primary members should elect the leader of the party,” he said.

The rule came into effect on November 1, 1976 and Jayalalithaa in 2006 too stressed that this rule should never be changed. But after her demise, the rule was changed in 2017. With the recent amendments on December 1, the AIADMK has brought back the old rule.

Shyam had his reservations about this new amendment as well. According to him, the amendment has to be ratified by the general council before it comes into effect. Moreover, the rule now says that the members should elect both the coordinator and co-coordinator with a single vote.

“This means that if anyone wants to contest for the post of coordinator, he or she must contest along with a co-coordinator, paving the way for the continuation of a dual leadership. They are compelling the voter to elect only them, which is against the law,” averred Shyam, adding that he does not believe party elections will be conducted anytime soon.

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