The majority of AIADMK’s district secretaries have batted for the party reins to vest in the hands of one leader, as opposed to the current leading combine of Edappadi K Palaniswami and O Panneerselvam, party spokesperson D Jayakumar said on Tuesday.
“Most district secretaries stressed the need for a single leadership within the party. The party will take a call on this," he said after a meeting with the district secretaries. The AIADMK has a working council comprising senior leaders and helmed by the ruling combine of Palaniswami and Panneerselvam. Jayakumar also said that there was no need for the discussion around the inclusion of VK Sasikala into the party, as she continues to remain a “non-member."
The AIADMK’s general council is set to meet on June 25. The party will take up important administrative matters during the meeting, besides addressing the issue of the leadership structure of the party itself.
The talk of how the party’s leadership needs to be structured has been a constant irritant for the AIADMK’s top echelon ever since the death of J Jayalalithaa in December 2016. After Panneerselvam’s ill-fated revolt against Sasikala and subsequent merger into the Palaniswami faction, he remains a leader overshadowed by Palaniswami and his coterie of loyalists.
Meanwhile, Sasikala has been waiting as an outlying contender to Jayalalithaa’s legacy, rolling out audio notes about her glory days with the late chief minister and her imminent takeover of the party to script its return to power.
It is in this context that the district secretaries’ expression for a single leadership needs to be seen. The DMK has been consolidating power, all the while managing to keep alliance partners fairly satisfied with the proceedings of the government. AIADMK leaders have been forced to assert that they remain the principal opposition party in Tamil Nadu, amid a strident BJP under its new leader K Annamalai.
Palaniswami and Panneerselvam may have to inevitably address the question of unified leadership soon, before the spectre of erosion of political brand equity begins to haunt the party.