While on expected lines, Tamil Nadu's principal opposition party, the AIADMK on Monday elected Edappady K Palaniswami (EPS) as its Interim General Secretary and vested in him full powers to helm the organisation, the rival leader O Panneerselvam got expelled from the party's primary membership and his post of treasurer. Panneerselvam's supporters are expelled as well.
In its Executive Committee and General Council meeting, the AIADMK endorsed scrapping the erstwhile top two positions of Coordinator and Joint Coordinator held by O Panneerselvam and (OPS) Palaniswami, respectively.
The party has also formally resolved to hold organisational polls in 4 months to elect General Secretary. It has amended several bylaws, which includes fresh norms and prerequisites to fight for the top party position of General Secretary.
In total, 16 resolutions were adopted. While Panneerselvam is the party treasurer, senior leader and former Minister C Vijayabaskar presented accounts related to party finances in the meet. It is seen as a clear indication that OPS would soon be eased out of his position.
The first resolution extended its greetings to partymen elected in the recent organisational polls for various levels. The second resolution urged the Centre to confer 'Bharat Ratna' on late leaders-- social justice icon Periyar E V Ramasamy, Dravidian movement's father figure CN Annadurai, and AIADMK supremo J Jayalalithaa.
Incidentally, Jayalalithaa helmed the party for decades as its powerful general secretary while her close aide, VK Sasikala, was made interim general secretary for a brief period following the former's death in December 2016.
Sasikala, who was later convicted and sentenced in a disproportionate assets case, was subsequently sacked from the post in 2017 by a then AIADMK GC.
Expulsion of Paneerselvam
The AIADMK General Council meet on Monday expelled rival leader O Panneerselvam from the party's primary membership and his post of treasurer but the defiant leader said his rival Edappady K Palaniswami has no right to show him the door and rather announced the 'expulsion' of the latter from the party.
Amid a big round of applause from the General Council members, at its meeting at a marriage hall here, a special resolution moved by senior leader Natham R Viswanathan to remove Panneerslvam and his supporters was adopted unanimously.
The resolution accused Panneerselvam of siding with the DMK regime and having ties with the ruling party leaders and working to weaken the AIADMK. OPS acted against the party interests, its goals and principles. He took steps including approaching police to stall the June 23 General Council meet, which was jointly convened by him along with Palaniswami. The AIADMK alleged that Panneerselvam pursued selfish interests.
The party expelled Panneerselvam from his post of treasurer and primary membership. It also expelled his supporters, R Vaithilingam, P H Manoj Pandian--both legislators and ex-MLA JCD Prabakar.
Responding, Panneerselvam said he was elected as Coordinator by "1.5 crore" party workers and that neither Palaniswami nor another leader, K P Munusamy, had the right to expel him.
Condemning the two for expelling him "uniltaerally" and against party rules, Panneerselvam said "I expel them from primary membership," of the AIADMK.
Responding to reporters' queries on the next course of action, he said he would approach the courts with the support of party workers and secure justice.
Madras High Court verdict
Holding that the court cannot interfere into the squabbles of a political party, the Madras High Court on Monday rejected a plea from AIADMK leader and former Co-ordinator O Panneerselvam to stay the conduct of the general council meeting of the party at a marriage hall here on July 11, virtually making way for rival leader Edappady K Palaniswami's elevation as a possible single leader of the party.
Justice Krishnan Ramaswamy delivered the verdict on Monday morning, which allowed the EPS faction to hold the GC meet, the supreme decision making body of the main opposition party in Tamil Nadu.
After hearing the lengthy arguments of the senior counsels for OPS and EPS, the judge had on July 8 reserved the orders for today.
The court also dismissed another suit challenging the GC meeting.
The GC meeting can be conducted in accordance with the law, the judge said
Clash erupted outside AIADMK headquarters
Two groups of suspected AIADMK workers clashed outside the party headquarters in Chennai, police said, on a day when the dominant faction led by Edappady K Palaniswami is set to elect him possibly as the single leader of the organisation.
However, the conduct of the meeting hinges on the outcome of a Madras High Court verdict, later in the day, that will rule on a plea by rival leader O Panneerselvam against holding the crucial meet of the General Council, the party's highest decision-making body.
On Monday, two groups, suspected to be supporters of either leaders and carrying AIADMK flags clashed, with TV visuals showing some persons hurling stones at each other and some men damaging vehicles parked nearby.
It was not clear immediately if there were injuries.
Meanwhile, some men were seen forcing their way into the party office by breaking open the doors.
Security has been beefed up at the AIADMK office, MGR Maaligai, named after party founder, the late Chief Minister M G Ramachandran.
Later, Panneerselvam arrived at the party office, flanked by his supporters including R Vaithilingam and Manoj Pandian.
Panneerselvam greeted his supporters from a portico and also waved the party flag.
There were "Ayya OPS vazhga" (hail OPS sir) slogans by his supporters.
(With PTI Inputs)