The primary goal of VK Sasikala, the jailed close aide of former Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa who was recently released, when she arrives in Chennai on February 7, would be to reclaim the AIADMK.
Speculations are rife that she would take the legal route over her right to lead the ruling party.
After Jayalalithaa’s demise in 2016, Sasikala was made the temporary general secretary of the party and had all rights and powers. When she was sent to jail in a disproportionate assets case, she made her nephew TTV Dhinakaran deputy general secretary of AIADMK after re-inducting him into the party in 2017. He was expelled by Jayalalitha in 2011.
This had created a commotion in the party and O Panneerselvam, who’s the current deputy chief minister, and his faction revolted against Dhinakaran’s appointment. In the meantime, Edappadi K Palaniswami was made chief minister by Sasikala. Contrast to the expectation that EPS would be loyal to Sasikala, he joined hands with OPS and sidelined Dhinakaran.
The Palaniswami-Pannerselvam (EPS-OPS) duo changed the bylaws of the party and made the post of general secretary obsolete. They also termed Jayalalithaa as permanent general secretary and replaced the post with newly-created coordinator and co-coordinator posts.
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“The case filed by Sasikala to quash the changes in the party bylaws is pending before with Madras High Court,” said Sasikala’s advocate Raja Senthoor Pandian.
Soon after these developments in AIADMK back in 2017, by-election was conducted in April in RK Nagar, the assembly constituency which fell vacant after Jayalalithaa’s death. During that time, issue over using party name and symbol between EPS-OPS group and Sasikala’s faction came before the Election Commission, which ruled in EPS-OPS group’s favour.
The Sasikala faction had then challenged EC’s decision in the Delhi High Court, but the HC upheld their decision. They lost their appeal in the Supreme Court as well.
“We are now planning to file a curative petition. Just because the right of using the party name was given to the EPS-OPS group, that doesn’t mean Sasikala group is not a loyalist of AIADMK,” said Pandian.
“When MGR floated the party, he was clear about one thing — the general secretary should be selected by the cadre and not the general council. But EPS-OPS changed the bylaws and they created new posts with the support of the general body,” he added.
Another rebel leader, KC Palanisamy, agreed and said the general council members don’t have any right to amend anything pertaining to the post of general secretary.
“But EPS-OPS was manoeuvred to amend the laws since they are in power and having the BJP’s support. As all powers of general secretary are resting with them, they just renamed the post as coordinator,” said Palanisamy who had filed a case in the Delhi High Court with a prayer to conduct elections for the post of general secretary.
“The next hearing is on February 18. Sasikala may be impleaded in the case. I had filed the case to keep the party in unity. If both EPS-OPS and Sasikala groups fight over this issue, the DMK will have an edge,” he said.