Months after its defeat in the Assembly elections, the AIADMK seems beset by infighting again, with its senior leaders locking horns to consolidate their positions.
A meeting of the AIADMK’s senior functionaries and other district office bearers on Wednesday, held at party headquarters ‘MGR Maligai’ in Chennai, saw a heated exchange between the EPS and OPS factions on several issues, sources claimed. Senior party leaders D Jayakumar and Sellur K Raju, however, later said the meeting was “peaceful” and saw a “healthy discussion among brothers”.
The meeting had been held to discuss the AIADMK strategy ahead of the urban local body elections as well as measures for intra-party elections.
According to sources, when the leaders were discussing the party’s performance in the past elections and also expelled leader VK Sasikala’s proposed re-entry into politics, former MP and party’s minority wing secretary Anwhar Raajhaa rose to make a comment. He, however, was shouted down by former minister C Ve Shanmugam and others, for having made remarks against Edappadi K. Palaniswami (EPS) in the recent past. They urged the party high command to take disciplinary action against Raajhaa.
Following this, there was a heated debate between Shanmugam and Raajhaa, and in the end, the latter apologised.
The meeting, which began approximately at 10:45 am, extended to more than three hours.
A senior leader of the party from southern Tamil Nadu who participated in the meeting said former minister KA Sengottaiyan placed a proposal to provide additional powers to the steering committee to guide the party, and also pressed for the inclusion of more senior members into the committee. This was advocated by O Panneerselvam (OPS) when he spoke at the meeting.
Sources said Palaniswami was unhappy with the demand. He also questioned Pannerselvam’s public remarks about the possibility of Sasikala’s re-entry into AIADMK. OPS had recently said party leaders would “discuss and decide” on re-inducting Sasikala, when the AIADMK in the past has said she will never be allowed back.
EPS also had a debate with some members of the OPS faction when they claimed that the 10.5% reservation to the Vanniyar community, announced by the CM during his tenure, was one among the many reasons for their poor performance in the recent elections.
Meanwhile, while the meeting was going on, a section of cadres from Chengalpettu staged a dharna at the headquarters, demanding to change one office bearer due to his “unnecessary interference” in party affairs.
However, party leaders sought to downplay reports of differences after the meeting.
Addressing reporters, senior leader and former minister D Jayakumar said the meeting was held in a peaceful and democratic manner with all members expressing their views. He said the discussion was focused on strengthening the party and devising a strategy to emerge victorious in the upcoming urban local body elections.
Senior leader Sellur K Raju too said there was no heated exchange, as was being reported, and the meeting saw “a healthy discussion among brothers”. He said the members agreed they would abide by the decisions taken jointly by EPS and OPS. He further said there was no discussion on Sasikala.
Meanwhile, the party will hold its executive committee meeting on December 1.