Chennai: A combination of factors like string of electoral losses, growing dissension with the party, corruption cases, raids against the former ministers, and others led the AIADMK leadership to amend the by-laws to consolidate their positions, said current and former party leaders.
Further, there is also a case pending in the Delhi High Court filed by former Parliamentarian K.C. Palanisamy (KCP) against the party earlier amending its constitution to take away the rights of primary members to elect the party’s General Secretary and giving it to the General Council.
“Party cadres and second line leaders have started questioning the decisions taken by the top leadership after a string of electoral losses — Lok Sabha, Assembly and local body polls,” KCP, a former AIADMK Parliamentarian, told IANS.
The two top leaders are O.Panneerselvam, Coordinator and K.Palaniswami, Joint Coordinator.
Actually their position in the party has weakened and the move is aimed to strengthen their positions with the decision to amend the party by-laws on the mode of electing the party’s Coordinator and Joint Coordinator, KCP said.
“With the latest decision Panneerselvam has firmed up his position in the party. He was always facing the threat of being ousted from the party at the General Council meeting where Palaniswami had a majority support,” KCP added.
The party’s Executive Committee at its meeting held here resolved to amend its by-law enabling the election of Coordinator and Joint Coordinator by primary members by a single vote.
With this, the Executive Committee in a way decided to revert to the original scheme of things as decided by AIADMK founder and late Chief Minister M.G. Ramachandaran (MGR).
This rule was amended by the party’s General Council meeting held on September 12, 2017 whereby it was decided that the party’s Coordinator and Joint Coordinator would be elected by the Council.
The Executive Committee also resolved to take away the powers of the Coordinator, Joint Coordinator to relax the rules relating to their election process and that of the General Council to amend the same.
“The proposed amendment to the election process is expected to bring to an end the power struggle between the two office-bearers,” a senior party leader told IANS.
Interestingly, the two former Chief Ministers Panneerselvam and Palaniswami were earlier opposed to the petition filed by the former MP challenging the by-law amendment that gave the General Council to elect the Coordinator and Joint Coordinator.
The major decisions taken by the former AIADMK government — allotment of 10.5 per cent reservation to Vanniyars, conversion of late Chief Minister J.Jayalalithaa’s residence into a memorial — were overturned by the Madras High Court.
According to party leaders and political analysts, the 10.5 per cent reservation for Vanniyars and aligning with the BJP had actually backfired on the AIADMK at the Assembly polls with other castes/communities going against AIADMK.
“The electoral losses — Lok Sabha, Assembly, local body — reversal of AIADMK government decisions by the Court and raising dissenting voices and the threat of leadership change demand if the party suffers defeat in the remaining local body polls has forced the party to revert to the old system of electing the top leadership,” KCP said.
However, the party’s basic constitution did not specify dual leadership which the two former Chief Ministers have hammered out as a patch up formula.
The taking away of the right of primary members to elect the party supremo altered the basic structure of the party’s constitution, KCP added.
He has held about 150 Zoom meetings with AIADMK’s cadres and second line leaders to assess their views.
At the Zoom meetings, KCP insists that the party leader should be elected by the cadres and also shares his views on various developments while claiming the MGR legacy.
Once the party’s spokesperson, KCP belonged to the camp of the Panneerselvam. In 2018, KCP was expelled from the party after he urged it to back a no-confidence motion against the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre if it did not take a stand favourable to the state on the Cauvery waters issue.
He was also the first person to oppose the election of Sasikala as AIADMK general secretary and also filed a case against the amendments made in the party’s by-laws.
Political leaders and analysts told IANS that it is too early to speculate whether there will be rival contestants for the two top posts in the party.
It will also be interesting to see whether Panneerselvam and Palaniswami fight the party polls as a single team or rope in different partners.
“That possibility will not be there. The amendment to the rules is being made to show that the entire party is supportive of the twin leadership. Panneerselvam and Palaniswami will file their nominations. There will not be any rival duo team fighting against them,” political analyst Kolahala Srenivaas told IANS.
The Executive Committee’s decision to amend the party rules also put an end to the revival of the position of General Secretary in the party and also the aspirations of expelled leader V.K. Sasikala to get into the party.
Sreenivas said that the party leadership has sent a strong signal that anyone who speaks in favour of Sasikala will be doing that at their own risk and there is no place for her in AIADMK.