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AIADMK Turf War: Whose Need is Greater? Party Wars And Power Play

Deepa Balakrishnan, Poornima Murali deepab18

Updated: April 21, 2017, 12:03 AM IST
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AIADMK Turf War: Whose Need is Greater? Party Wars And Power Play
File photo of O Panneerselvam/PTI Photo)

Chennai: The stalemate in Tamil Nadu's ruling party, the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, continues to hold the state in suspense with the faction led by former chief minister O Panneerselvam (OPS) toughening its stand on a merger between his faction and the one led by current CM Edapadi K Palaniswami (EPS).

The turf war for control over the party now boils down to two things -- who needs who more and how do they save the party symbol?

The OPS camp says it is on firmer ground on this issue: claiming that his camp has been able to garner over 19000 relevant affidavits the have been submitted to the Election Commission over the battle for the party symbol.

"They (EPS) want to hold talks and they want us more than we do. We are not keen on merger. They wanted a merger to ensure they don't lose the Election Commission decision on the symbol. We have filed over 19000 affidavits when they have filed only 1000," asserts former minister and MLA in the OPS camp 'MaFoi' K Pandiarajan.

The fight then goes down to who gets the control of the party. Former Chief Election Commissioner N Gopalaswami says the Commission would go by different parameters like letters of support from party and from elected representatives before deciding on the symbol.

"The General Secretary of the party must be elected by its 1.5 crores members. Now if a GS is elected illegally that GS is illegal. Then you wonder who runs the party? That also, when the regularly elected GS was there, she had appointed the presidium chairman (E Madhusudhanan, who supports OPS), and the treasurer (OPS himself, at that time). They can tell the EC, pass direction that we hold elect a GS as per party by-laws, we will do it," says Gopalaswami.

Either way, whether it's party support or election of a GS, OPS stands to gain.

So he is placed at an advantage to take control over the party, if the merger talks fail. This, however, does not mean he can topple the government.

"He can be GS and have the two-leaves symbol. But rightly or wrongly, there is a CM. He and other MLAs were elected on the AIADMK symbol. Even if OPS expels him and all MLas from the party, they can call themselves a new name and run the government. The rights over the two-leaves symbol will only help in the next election," says Gopalaswami.

The position of an MLA will not be disturbed by the verdict of the EC. But there are more elections to be faced in the coming months, be it local body polls or the RK Nagar seat itself that J Jayalalithaa once ruled over.

The OPS camp's demands - that the merger talks can only start if it's core demands on a CBI probe into Jaya's death and the Sasikala family's ouster from party affairs be formalised - - is thus more power play. They have an upper hand and are trying to see how much they can push forth on this.

"We never talked about the CM or GS post. Why do EPS' supporters keep harping on that? We have only said the starting point to our talks is the demands we placed," says KP Muniswamy, an OPS supporter.

They are also suspicious of the overtures of friendship by the EPS faction, saying their statements are very confusing.

The EPS camp merely responded to this by saying they would order a probe into Jaya's death after the court decides.

"We have no conditions, we're ready to hold talks and have formed a committee to do that y with Team OPS, " is all one MLA would say.

Minister D jayakumar also told the media that the Sasikala family has" been completely delinked" and this issue would not be discussed.

TTV Dinakaran, the now-expelled deputy general secretary, is out of the picture now, conceding defeat by saying "if MLAs had asked him, he would have resigned himself." obviously, with barely nine mlas landing at his house to support him, he realized he could neither topple the government nor sway the party.

But the EPS-OPS pressure games have just begun. The tussle for the CM post has been unsaid, but lies just below the surface.

First Published: April 20, 2017, 11:59 PM IST
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