Chennai: A day after AIADMK’s top brass split in two over who should be the chief ministerial candidate for the upcoming elections in Tamil Nadu, the fissure appeared to be widening on Tuesday as O Panneerselvam held parleys with his lieutenants Manoj Pandian, KP Munusamy and Vaithilingam at his residence.
Panneerselvam, who is also the deputy chief minister, skipped a key meeting with district collectors presided over by Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami. In the backdrop of the party’s decision to announce the chief ministerial candidate on October 7, Panneerselvam’s meeting with his loyalists on Tuesday morning has stirred up speculation—of strife, and probable moves by the party’s coordinator.
According to multiple sources present in the executive committee meeting on Monday, sparks flew during an open debate between Panneerselvam and Palaniswami. Among the many exchanges was this repartee-laden one: Panneerselvam qualified Palaniswami as the candidate of VK Sasikala, the banished aide of Jayalalithaa, while he was chosen directly by The Puratchi Thalaivi (revolutionary leader) herself. To that, Palaniswami let out a leveller: “We are both choices of Sasikala.”
Sources present in the meeting said the Palaniswami faction had come to the meeting with a clear plan of demanding that the committee choose chief ministerial candidate right away. Flanked by his own coterie of ministers — KA Sengottaiyan, SP Velumani, P Thangamani and Dindigul Sreenivasan —Palaniswami had a strong pitch going for him for the CM’s chair.
The Panneerselvam faction had a tough time putting off the combined move of the ministers. After a marathon debate, it was decided that the Panneerselvam and Palaniswami would jointly announce the candidate on October 7.
Panneerselvam’s meeting with his own coterie underscores the unresolved issues festering within the AIADMK and the burning need among OPS for more authority within the party.
Going by the current state of affairs, it appears the AIADMK will continue to churn until the dust over internal wrangles settles within the party.