In a huge win for team EPS, as AIADMK chief Edappadi K Palaniswami is addressed, the Madras High Court today rejected the challenge by rival leader O Panneerselvan (OPS) to his expulsion from the party, and the former’s elevation to the party’s powerful General Secretary post. Soon after, AIADMK formally announced EPS as its General Secretary. Celebrations broke out at the party headquarters over a resolution to the protracted feud for leadership.
Team OPS is now likely to appeal to a two judge bench.
The Madras High Court was hearing a batch of petitions challenging the elevation of former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami as the AIADMK’s interim general secretary by the party’s general council in July last year, where resolutions were adopted, and the amendments made to the party’s by-laws. The Supreme Court had a month back greenflagged his continuance as the interim chief, but left it to the Madras High court to decide on the legality of the resolutions.
EPS had on Saturday filed nomination for election to the party’s General Secretary post, which O Panneerselvan slammed as a “pickpocket-like” approach, alleging due party process was not followed.
The organisational polls have to be held once in five years and the highest office is elected by primary members. Only the elected General Secretary can later conduct organisational polls and appoint functionaries. Further, membership forms have to be given during this period to include new members and renew membership for existing ones, following which identity cards have to be given for both, he said.
“The election to the top post will be held only after completion of these processes. There is no due process, and they want to hold the election for the general secretary post like a pickpocket doing away (with one’s purse)..is this acceptable,” OPS asked.
The July 11, 2022 meet of the AIADMK general council, the party’s highest decision making body. had expelled Panneerselvam and his aides for alleged anti-party activities in the wake of the leadership battle involving the two leaders.
The Salem strongman’s supporters had backed him for the ‘single leader’ post. Since the death of former chief minister and All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) general secretary J Jayalalithaa, the party had a dual leadership, with OPS and EPS leading the AIADMK as coordinator and joint coordinator respectively. However, recently, disputes arose between both leaders, with the EPS group pressing for single leadership.
OPS also took on his rival over his leadership abilities, pointing out the various electoral losses since the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, including the recent Erode (East) byelection where the DMK-led ruling coalition candidate, EVKS Elangovan of the Congress trumped Mr Palaniswami’s pick K S Thennarasu by more than 66,000 votes.