Voices of dissent against dual leadership in AIADMK

Cross-section of functionaries concerned over attitude of EPS, OPS

The desirability of persisting with dual leadership in the AIADMK is once again in focus. Since the party’s defeat in the Assembly election, coordinator O. Panneerselvam and co-coordinator Edappadi K. Palaniswami have been issuing statements separately on issues of public importance. Even on Tuesday, the former came out with a press release, urging the State government to ensure that the vehicles reportedly impounded by the authorities despite having the necessary approvals be returned to the owners.

Though the statements of Mr. Panneerselvam were issued under the AIADMK’s letterhead, they are not being sent by the party to the media through its official e-mail but are being sent through informal channels. But in the case of Mr. Palaniswami, it is through the party machinery that his statements are being circulated to the media under the letterhead, identifying him as Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly and former Chief Minister, with Fort St. George (housing the Secretariat and the Assembly) as the postal address.

In the last three weeks, the leaders issued two joint statements of significance, which pertained to the expulsion of former Labour Minister Nilofer Kafeel and cautioned the party cadre not to float forums named after any leader. Otherwise, their attitude is a matter of concern, acknowledge a cross-section of functionaries, contrasting the present situation with what was prevalent when the party was in power. At the time, the two leaders invariably issued statements collectively on all issues.

While a young office-bearer feels that it would be in the interest of the party that Mr. Panneerselvam cedes his space fully to Mr. Palaniswami, who ensured an impressive performance by the party in the western parts of the State during the recent election, a supporter of the former Deputy Chief Minister claims that it is Mr. Panneerselvam who is conducting himself as the true Leader of the Opposition, if one is to go by “quick and favourable responses” of the government to his statements.

Notwithstanding the debate between the two camps, those who have not closely identified themselves with either of them say the two leaders should decide amongst themselves as to who should have full control over the party, and this should be resolved early for two reasons. Urban local body elections may be held immediately after the present wave of the COVID-19 pandemic gets weakened. The ruling DMK, currently pre-occupied with the management of COVID-19, may start paying attention to efforts aimed at weakening the principal Opposition party.

“If we are to safeguard the organisation against any move by our adversary and secure at least 40% of the seats in the local body polls, the two leaders should come to an understanding on the idea of single leadership, which will only facilitate cohesive functioning of the AIADMK,” says a former Minister, who hails from the northern belt.

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