The AIADMK which is in its golden jubilee year is heading for an imminent split according to the latest developments.
On Tuesday the party has called for the meeting of party district secretaries ahead of its Executive and General Council meeting scheduled for 23rd June 2022. The ADMK’s official announcement calling for the meet said, “The Executive Committee and General Council Meet will be held on 23.06.2022 at 10 at the Sri Varu Marriage Hall, Maduravoyal. Tamilmagan Hussain the temporary Presidium Chairman will preside over the meet”.
The invite went on that separate invites to the EC and GC members will be sent and the members should participate without fail with their respective invitations.
OPS, who wanted to test his strength and mount a challenge to Edappadi Palanisamy, tried a mutiny which fell flat and ultimately strengthened EPS.
Tamilmagan Hussain, who is still the officiating Presidium Chairman was not given seat in the dais in Tuesday’s meet. Edappadi Palanisamy, O.Panneerselvam, KP. Munusamy and Vaithiyalingam alone sat int he dais and Hussain was asked to sit in the front row. Hussain paid the price for raising a revolt.
After the assembly polls in 2021, in which the performance of ADMK was not bad after a 10 year anti-incumbency, Edappadi Palanisamy had an upper hand in the party affairs. OPS who used to be a force to reckon with for his Dharmayudham saw his slowly eroded after the merger. EPS a canny politician, one by one, dismantled the community backed fort of OPS.
After the Assembly polls in 2021, ADMK appeared to be directionless with both OPS and EPS confining themselves to their respective home towns.
There was no major political activity by the party and their statements against the ruling DMK on important issues were not unified but split.
Though the posts of EPS and OPS is ‘Joint Coordinator’ and ‘Coordinator’ there was anything but ‘coordination’ among the two. Except the periodical tweets and cursory statements, there was zero political activity. The party has been undergoing a rough patch.
The troubles of the party were further aggravated by more than half a dozen corruption cases slapped on the two Vijayabaskars, Bell Boys Thangamani, Velumani and KC Veeramani. Most of the former Ministers are living in fear of antagonising the DMK and has put their political activities in cold storage fearing DVAC sleuths.
In the meanwhile, the expelled ADMK General Secretary VK Sasikala also started making noises by touring the southern districts and issuing statements. At one point, she openly charged that, “ADMK has failed to act as a proper opposition party”.
A source close to Sasikala said, ‘Sasikala who was assisting Jayalalitha in her political activities and decisions is really pained that her party is going south. She has even extended an olive branch to EPS, which was snubbed. Sasi, who cannot contest elections for another 5 years is not keen on any powerful post, but wants the party to be united and keep the DMK under check’.
It is in such a dire circumstances, the party’s District Secretaries meet met on 14th June 2022. Fearing leakage of information, all the party office bearers were asked to leave their mobile phones outside. Former Rajya Sabha MP Dr. Maithreyan, when asked to leave his phone outside, left immediately.
Speaking at the meeting, Edappadi Palanisamy informed the purpose of the meeting to the participants. He said, ‘the General Council has been called only to comply with the mandate of the Election Commission. If we don’t hold the GC meet, party’s recognition will be cancelled. We should have held this GC in December. Due to various reasons, we are holding it on 23rd.
So the purpose of the EC is limited. Due to this, we are deviating from the norm of sending invites to Special Invitees for the GC numbering around 2400.’
OPS did not utter a word. EPS also explained that some important resolutions need to be passed.
At this juncture, former Minister Madhavaram Moorthy sought permission to speak. He immediately started speaking about the leadership crisis faced by the party. He said, ‘Only a Unitary leadership will bring back the party to its old glory. During the recent Rajya Sabha polls, the DMK was quick to announce its candidates. ADMK cut a sorry figure among the public due to its indecisiveness. We became a laughing stock before the public. The only reason is this dual leadership. We need to take a quick call about leadership’.
Arulmozhi Thevar, Thiruthani Hari, Agri Krishnamurthy, C. Ve Shanmugam, MR Vijayabaskar, C. Vijayabaskar, Gokula Indira, Valarmathy, Rajan Chellappa, RB Udayakumar all followed suit. They all echoed Moorthy’s views.
C. Vijayabaskar, added his woes. He said, “We all are facing problems (corruption cases). We all depend on you. You should strengthen the party and save us”.
KA Sengottaiyan too supported the single leadership demand. Sengottaiyan said, “One of you should sacrifice for the sake of the party. There is no point in prolonging this any further. If one of you sacrifice his post, we can function coherently.”
Former ADMK floor leader of Lok Sabha Dr. P. Venugopal said, “Sengottaiyan is right. One of the two top leaders should do some sacrifice”. He cited an example. “When the party was split due to Dharma Yudham, there was a demand from Namakkal MP Sundaram. He sought two MPs to his side. At that time, we were having a combined strength of 50 MPs. I told him, whatever the politics in the state, in Delhi we should stand united. If we split, our strength will go below that of Trinamul Congress.
If you want, I am ready to resign my floor leader post. You can take it. But, do not split the party. The two top leaders should think of all aspects and choose a leader”. said Venugopal.
Former Minister Dindigul Srinivasan said, “You two leaders discuss among yourselves and take several decisions. We are kept in the dark. We have absolutely no clue as to what is happening in the party. Resolve your differences and find a solution in the interest of the party’
OPS who commanded huge clout during his dharma yudham days was a lone man. Only Manoj Pandian and JCT Prabakar rose to speak in his support. Manoj Pandian said, ‘Status quo may be continued. Any change in the current equations may lead to huge confusion’. Prabakar also echoed his view. Dharmar, who was recently made Rajya Sabha MP on the support of OPS also did not rise in support of OPS.
The meet ended without any conclusion. Both EPS and OPS left the meeting in a glum mood and were closeted with their supporters.
Sources close to Edappadi Palanisamy say, he is in no mood to relent or extend an olive branch to neither Sasikala or OPS.
After the meet, a heartbroken OPS went home. The only ADMK leaders who were present at his house were Velachery Ashok, JCT Prabakar, Syed Khan, Manoj Pandian and Kovai Selvaraj.
Sensing victory of a total take over, Edappadi Palanisamy sent two ADMK former Ministers – RB Udhayakumar and Kamaraj to offer a consolatory post and a refuge to OPS’s house. Seeing a few people around OPS, both Udayakumar and Kamaraj did not utter any word.
Much to the chagrin of the two emissaries, a few acolytes of OPS, started shouting at the duo as to how they can speak of unitary leadership and insult OPS. An upset Udayakumar and Kamaraj left in a huff without discussing anything.
Now, the five year old leadership crisis has come to a climax. Edappadi Palanisamy feels this is the right time to go for the kill as the BJP is busy with Presidential polls.
A source close to Edappadi Palanisamy say, “EPS meticulously orchestrated this chorus for unitary leadership. He wanted to see, how many raises in support of OPS if the question of single leadership arises. Now he is quite sure that OPS is a lone man and none will question his leadership.
In the GC meet on 23rd June, any of the participant will move a resolution to make EPS the general secretary and the resolution will be passed unanimously.
OPS do not have any support from his community too. EPS closely observed who visited OPS’s house after the meet. Except RS MP Dharmar none of the leaders present at OPS’s house belong to Mukkulathor community. The community is split among Sasikala, TTV Dinakaran and OPS doesn’t even command 10% of the community’s support. It is time to finish the fight’ said the source.
What are the options before OPS ?
Almost none. OPS neither commands support among the party or among his community. OPS alienated all his supporters and is a lone man now. He cannot mount a coup without any support base.
The defeat of OPS in this leadership tussle is imminent. He can meekly go towards sunset. But that is not an option for he has to assure a political future to his two sons. If he goes south, his elder son OP Ravindranath may not get ticket for 2024. And he finds it difficult to pacify his over ambitious younger son Jayapradheep.
Sources say, OPS has planned to make a dramatic visit to the house of expelled ADMK General Secretary VK Sasikala. Whether this move yields any benefits or swing things in his favour in the General Council is anybody’s guess.
But does OPS have any other option ? Whatever be the result of the General Council of ADMK, the split of ADMK is imminent.