Amid demands for a shift to single leadership in AIADMK, the party’s coordinator and former deputy chief minister O Panneerselvam (OPS) feels that it is better to stick to dual leadership rather than split the party and weaken it.
The Tamil Nadu opposition party which has had dual leadership shared between OPS and former chief minister Edapaddi K Palaniswami ever since the death of the party’s former general secretary and former CM J Jayalalithaa.
After the demand was raised again on Wednesday, Panneerselvam told reporters on Thursday that the dual leadership is functioning well now and the party’s position of general secretary held by former CM J Jayalalithaa cannot be given to anybody.
“I have conveyed to them (EPS camp) that a 14-member high-committee could be formed and things could be discussed in the committee. Then the decision of the committee could be approved by the coordinator and co-coordinator. I am ready for talks. The party should not split into two for any reason,” Panneerselvam said.
Stating that the promises were not kept at the time of merging with the Palaniswami, he said he did all the sacrifice only for the party cadre. He said he took up the deputy chief minister position only because the Prime Minister forced him to take it up.
“As per the law, there is no power for the deputy chief minister. But I accepted the post because I was forced by the Prime Minister when I was talking with them in Delhi,”he said.
After the demise of Jayalalithaa, there has been constant demand for single leadership in the party, but the recent demand came up at the party’s district secretaries’ meeting held in Chennai on Wednesday.
After the meeting, former minister D Jayakumar told the reporters that there were discussions about single leadership and many of them were in favour of single leadership. This sent the party into a tizzy.
Soon, Palaniswami and Panneerselvam held discussions at their hometowns as well as in Chennai. While most of the former ministers and district secretaries were vociferous for single leadership in support of Palaniswami, some of them supported O Panneerselvam.
On Thursday, Panneerselvam said that he felt bad over whatever was happening.
“The district secretaries meet was organised to discuss inviting special guests for the party’s general council meeting (to be held in Chennai on June 23). But after the meeting ended, Edappadi Palaniswami said that few of them wanted to convey something and that’s when Madhavaram Moorthy, Tiruvallur East district secretary, sought for single leadership,” Panneerselvam said.
“However, it was discussed that it should not be spoken outside the meeting. Still former minister Jayakumar revealed that in the media and it has led to this situation,” he added.
After holding a marathon of meetings with his supporters for a week, Panneerselvam broke his silence on the single leadership issue on Thursday. However, Palaniswami has yet to respond to it.
Party sources said that Palaniswami wanted to take up the general secretary position in the party while O Pannerserlvam was offered the presidium chairman position in the party.
Tired of the fight over the position, most of the party’s seniors are in wait and watch mode as it may turn against any side.
“This time we don’t want to side with anybody since it would risk our political career. It has been a constant fight between them and later they join together and oust the people who voiced their support for them. So, we would like to wait and watch this time,” said a district secretary from a southern district.