The ruling AIADMK’s general council and executive, the highest policy making bodies, on Sunday amended bylaws to prevent expelled self-styled general secretary V K Sasikala from trying to re-capture the party after her release from Bengaluru prison where she is serving a four-year term in a corruption case.
The bylaws were amended to ensure that only those who had been members of the party for a minimum of five years could contest for any post, including those of coordinator and joint coordinator, now being held by Deputy Chief Minister O Pannerselvam and Chief Minister Edappadi K Palanisami ever since the last meeting of the council in September 2017.
This move will ensure that the top two will have a firmer grip on the party. The last general council meeting also abolished the post of general secretary which Sasikala usurped in a power struggle that erupted after the death of the then Chief Minister J Jayalalitha in December 2016. The post was held by Jayalalitha till then. The council also expelled her and her nephew T T V Dinakaran from the party.
In the place of the general secretary, the party created the posts of coordinator and joint coordinator to pave the way for collective leadership. On that basis, the O Pannerselvam faction and the Edappadi K Palanisami group merged. This led to the Election Commission recognising the merged entity as the AIADMK and awarding the symbol and flag to it.
After losing the battle for the party, Dinakaran floated his own party Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhgam. It is however, struggling to survive with most of his trusted lieutenants either going back to the AIADMK or joining the DMK. The party has also drawn a blank in the recent Lok Sabha elections and the simultaneous by-polls for 20 Assembly seats. Now Dinakaran is pinning hopes on the local body elections.
Still the AIADMK leaders live in morbid fear of Sasikala and her clan. This was reflected in the speech of Palanisami at the general council in which he recalled the “trials and tribulations we all went through” after Sasikala tried to capture the party following the passing of Jayalalitha.
Explaining away the Lok Sabaha election rout by the AIADMK, the council said people vote differently for Parliament and Assembly. It noted that in the simultaneous by-elections, the party won nine out of 20 Assembly seats. It also pointed to the victory in the recent by-elections in Vikhravandi and Nanguneri.
Palanisami said party should brace for the upcoming local bodies polls which would be a precursor to the next Assembly elections due by April 2021.