A senior member of the AIADMK has indirectly blamed Deputy Chief Minister and convenor of the party O Panneerselvam for the debacle in the Lok Sabha and Assembly elections in the State and demanded that Chief Minister Edappadi K Palanisami be made the sole leader.
Reacting it, Panneerselvam told reporters at AIADMK office in Chennai on Saturday that he would respond after getting details.
Rajan Chellappa, senior legislator from Madurai West constituency, told reporters earlier in the day that the joint leadership was thought off to stave off challenge from breakaway leader T T V Dinakaran and it was no longer needed as threat from him abated with people rejecting his Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam.
He also said though the Panneerselvam and Edappadi factions merged in August 2017, one year after the death of general secretary J Jayalalitha, and on the strength of it got recognition from the Election as the official AIADMK, the two groups had not integrated down the line.
He also indirectly accused Panneerselvam of having worked only for the success of his son Ravindranath from Theni Lok Sabha constituency and not work for the party.
As a result of groupism, the party had lost the 37 Lok Sabha seats that Jayalalitha had got in 2014. On top of it, it also lost 13 out of 22 AIADMK held Assembly seats for which by-elections were held along with the Lok Sabha polls.
Chellappa said the general council should be called to elect a new general secretary. He said Edappadi was the most suitable candidate as he had implemented most of the programmes of late Jayalalitha.
He downplayed threat to the Edappadi Government after the poll debacle. He said the nine seats it had won had given it comfortable majority.
Asked about DMK president M K Stalin’s motion of no-confidence against Speaker S Dhanapal which will be used to test the Government’s majority in the Assembly, Chellappa said no MLA, including from the DMK, wanted another election as the House had life till 2021.
He said that to constitute a split, one-third of AIADMK legislators should break away. After the drubbing in polls, no MLA would like to take a chance.
The DMK, whose strength has gone to 101 after bypoll wins, needs another 17 MLAs to topple the Government whereas it has the assured support of only seven MLAs from the Congress, and one from the Indian Union Muslim League , he said
This is the second time since Jayalalitha’s death that the party is facing a churning process. Immediately after her passing in December 2016, her aide Sasikala Natarajan got her anointed as general secretary by high-power executive and forced out then incumbent Chief Minister O Panneerselvam in an attempt to grab power. However, the coup fell through following her conviction in the assets case by the Supreme Court and she landed in Bengaluru jail to serve a four-year term.
Edappadi who she appointed as her proxy, refused to vacate the seat for her nephew Dinakaran and he merged his group with rival Panneerselvam faction . The AIADMK general council which met in September that year ratified the merger and annulled the appointment of Sasikala as general secretary.
This led to power sharing arrangement between Edappadi and Panneerselvam which had endured till the poll debacle.
Dinakaran’s revolt against the two has also failed with his supporting MLAs disqualified by Speaker Dhanapal
His party too has been routed in the first election it faced after breaking away from the AIADMK.
Therefore the call for the AIADMK to look within for the rout and rally behind one leader, Palanisami.