The development comes a day after O. Panneerselvam indulged in an open duel with CM Edappadi K. Palaniswami at the party executive committee meeting, on who would be the AIADMK’s Chief Ministerial candidate for the 2021 elections
Deputy Chief Minister and the ruling AIADMK coordinator, O. Panneerselvam skipped an official meeting chaired by Chief Minister and co-coordinator Edappadi K. Palaniswami at the Secretariat on Tuesday morning to review the situation arising out of the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, he was closeted with a few senior office-bearers of the party.
The development comes a day after he indulged in an open duel with Mr. Palaniswami at the party executive committee meeting on who would be the AIADMK’s Chief Ministerial candidate for the 2021 elections.
Those who met the Deputy Chief Minister at his residence on Greenways Road for about an hour, were the party’s deputy coordinators K.P. Munusamy and R. Vaithilingam and former Member of Parliament P.H. Manoj Pandian.
Emerging from the day’s meeting, Mr Vaithilingam told the media that his participation in the meeting was in his personal capacity. He denied that this had had any political significance.
To a query, the deputy coordinator, who was part of the Palaniswami camp at the time of the split in the AIADMK in February 2017, replied: “I would do my mite so that the party is strong enough to retain power [during the forthcoming Assembly polls]. I will be supportive to the coordinator [Mr. Panneerselvam] and the co-coordinator [Mr. Palaniswami].” He emphatically said “no” to a question on whether the confusion over the CM candidate would cause the fall of the government.
Mr Munusamy told The Hindu that the meeting pertained to “the party work,” the term of which he declined to elaborate on. On a query as to whether the formation of the 11-member steering committee, a demand placed by Mr. Panneerselvam at the AIADMK executive meet, form part of the party work, the deputy coordinator said: “I would only say the meeting was all about the party work.”
He added that all his efforts would be to ensure that “the party stays united, as it was founded by Puratchi Thalaviar [M.G. Ramchandran] nearly 50 years ago and nurtured by Amma [Jayalalithaa], giving enormous space to countless ordinary persons like me.”
Separately, after garlanding the statue of former Chennai Mayor N. Sivaraj in north Chennai, Fisheries Minister D. Jayakumar, accompanied by his cabinet colleagues K. Pandiarajan, V. Saroja and P. Benjamin, said members of the executive committee expressed their views in a “democratic manner,” which was “healthy.” He added that the Opposition, which had expected that the meeting would lead to a crisis for the party, should be “feeling disappointed now.”
As for the impact of the anticipated early return of former interim general secretary of the party V.K. Sasikala, on the party, the Minister termed it as an “unnecessary subject.”
As for the delay in the constitution of the steering committee, Mr. Jayakumar answered that the party would take a call “at the appropriate time.”
On Monday, members of the AIADMK executive committee held a marathon discussion on two issues – the party’s Chief Minister candidate for the forthcoming Assembly polls and the formation of an 11-member steering committee. The camp of the party coordinator — Deputy Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam was said to have been largely outnumbered by the camp of the co-coordinator — Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami at the executive committee.