OPS-EPS rift widens at AIADMK general council meeting

EPS faction insists on single leadership while outnumbered OPS followers cry foul; BJP adds to high drama with visit of leaders

AIADMK Meeting
A cutout at the venue of the AIADMK general council meeting in Chennai, on June 23, 2022. Pic: Twitter

Even as political turmoil rages in Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu has been witnessing some drama, too. The player here is not the ruling party, but the main opposition. 

Infighting in the AIADMK reached new proportions with the O Panneerselvam (OPS) faction moving court just ahead of the party General Council (GC) meeting, asking that it restrain the GC from taking any decision on single leadership.

Watch: OPS camp stages walkout, General Council to reconvene on July 11

A special division bench of the Madra High Court passed an order in OPS’ favour in a midnight hearing that stretched till early morning, hours ahead of the GC meeting.  At present, OPS and EPS are the joint coordinators of the party and the former has been wanting the dual leadership to continue. The EPS faction, on the other hand, has been advocating sole leadership.

All 23 resolutions rejected

At the meeting in Chennai on Thursday, upset over OPS’ move and the legal wrangle, GC members rejected all the 23 resolutions that were proposed. They further decided that any resolution would be adopted only after adopting a resolution over single leadership favouring EPS. 

Soon after senior AIADMK leader Vaigai Selvam proposed to adopt the 23 resolutions, MP and former law minister CVe Shangmugam rushed to the dais, saying all the resolutions were being rejected. He further said: “We will not adopt any resolution until one over single leadership is adopted.”

GC members largely echoed his sentiment. Former ministers D Jayakumar, SP Velumani and Valarmathi backed the opinion and supported EPS as the single leader of the party.

Also Read: AIADMK GC meet backs single leadership, favours EPS as leader

Tamil Magan Hussain named chairman

Shanmugam also submitted a representation to the party’s newly elected praesidium chairman Tamil Magan Hussain, saying that of the 2,600 GC members, 2,160 were in favour of single leadership. Before the resolutions were proposed, Tamil Magan, who was earlier the interim praesidium chairman of the party, was made as the chairman.

Declaring that all the 23 resolutions were rejected and that the GC’s demands were centred on single leadership, deputy coordinator KP Mususamy asked the praesidium chairman to declare the date of the next GC meeting, where all the resolutions along with one on leadership could be adopted. 

“Their one and only demand is for single leadership,” he said. “When such a resolution favouring a single leadership (favouring EPS) is taken up and passed, all other resolutions would be adopted as and when the GC is convened in future.”

Next meeting on July 11

Accepting this, Tamil Magan announced that the next GC would be convened on July 11 at 9.15 am. At this announcement, OPS and his supporters left the stage. Another senior leader, KP Munusamy, said that at the July 11 meeting, EPS would be elected as the general secretary of the party.

The meeting lasted about 40 minutes. It marked a full show of strength for  the EPS camp, with OPS followers heavily outnumbered. OPS was seated close to EPS on the dais when the GC burst into the single leadership chorus.

Soon after the meeting, OPS supporter and senior member Vaithilingam claimed that whatever happened in the GC meet was illegal and that they would approach the Madras High Court over a contempt plea. He also claimed that the appointment of Tamil Magan Hussain was illegal. “Only the coordinator and joint coordinator can appoint the praesidium chairman. So, proposing him and accepting him as the praesidium chairman is illegal,” he said.

Terming the GC meet ‘undemocratic’, he said OPS was always ready for talks.

BJP leaders meet OPS, EPS 

Meanwhile, soon after OPS and EPS left, BJP National General Secretary CT Ravi and Tamil Nadu President Annamalai met them separately at their respective residences.

Also read: ‘Pariah’ has cultural nuances; row rages over TN BJP leader’s use of word

Though it was widely speculated that the BJP leaders were in the city to hold talks with the leaders to arrive at a consensus on the AIADMK leadership issue, the BJP released an unofficial ‘statement’ saying the purpose of the meeting was to seek the support of the party for the BJP’s presidential candidate, Droupadi Murmu.

Commenting on this, former minister Jayakumar emphasised said that the BJP had never been involved in the AIADMK’s intra-party disputes.

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