A high-level meeting of AIADMK members of Parliament and MLAs as well as other top functionaries on Wednesday decided against changing the dual control of the party by Chief Minister Edappadi K Palanisami and Deputy O Pannerselvam. It also refused to blame the alliance with the BJP for its rout in the just concluded Lok Sabha polls and simultaneous by-elections to the 22 Tamil Nadu Assembly seats.
The meeting was called to calm down rumblings in the party following a public criticism of the leadership, particularly of O Pannerselvam, by senior functionary and senior legislator Rajan Chellappa who found traction with another MLA Kunnam Ramachandran.
They both accused Pannerselvam of having worked more for promoting his son Ravindranath’s victory from the Theni Lok Sabha constituency and making a vain effort to make him a Minister in the Modi Government.
The meeting presided over by Pannerselvam as convenor and Palanisami as joint convenor, passed a resolution thanking the BJP for having given an opportunity to the party to propose Modi for Prime Ministership after he got a massive mandate to rule for another term.
Without acknowledging the rout, the party thanked the functionaries and cadres who strove for the Lok Sabha polls and Assembly by-elections.
Their differences came to the fore when Edappadi scuttled the move to make Ravindranath an AIADMK Minister in the Modi Government by proposing senior leader Vaithilingam. He told BJP president Amit Shah that both the nominees should be included. As the BJP decided to include one representative from each ally in the Ministry, Shah dropped the AIDMK altogether.
Having getting a slender majority for the shaky Government by getting the AIADMK nine out of the 22 Assembly seats and taken its strength to 120 in the 234-member Assembly, the two leaders decided not to rock the boat.
In another stern message to malcontents, the AIADMK did not invite three dissident MLAs, Kalaiselvam, Prabhu and Rathnasabapathi. Rajan Chellappa, who stirred the hornet’s nest by trying to engineer revolt against Pannerselvam, decided to bide his time by attending the meeting.
However, senior member Vaithialingam firmly ruled revival of the post of general secretary held by late J Jayalalitha .
This was one of the demands of Rajan Chellappa as he contended that the party did well when it was under single leader under MGR and later Jayalalitha who both held the post of general secretary.
In a feeble to keep the dissident voice alive, posters appeared overnight around the AIADMK party office in Royapettah in Chennai, hailing Edappadi Palanisami as general secretary.
The next test will be in the Assembly when it meets for the budget session. The Government’s majority will come into question when it takes up a no-confidence motion against Speaker P Dhanapal given notice of by Leader of the Opposition and DMK president M K Stalin.The strategy to counter this was also discussed at the meeting.