In what is seen as a setback for AIADMK’s no. 2, former prime minister Edappadi Palaniswami, the Madras High Court withheld the party’s general council that will be held today to make any decision on the single leadership formula he pursues.
The party’s highest decision – making body can only accept the 23 resolutions already listed, the divisional bank ruled in an interim order after a late-night hearing.
One of the applicants, a general councilor Shanmugam, appealed against the court’s order yesterday, refusing to make such a decision. He has challenged the party’s internal elections, and he wants no leadership decisions to be made before his case is finalized.
Yesterday, the court refused to restrict the General Council meeting. It has raised hopes for Mr Palaniswami or EPS, who is hoping to elevate himself as general secretary of the party.
His rival and current party boss O Panneerselvam or OPS wants the dual leadership format in the party to continue.
OPS’s lawyers argued in court yesterday that he would not allow any amendment or resolutions to the general council other than the 23 already submitted to him.
However, EPS’s lawyers argued that this could not be guaranteed as discussions were taking place based on what the members thought.
Another member of the general council sought to stay at the meeting and said the agenda was not shared.
Trouble began last week after supporters of EPS proposed the idea of a single leadership under him at the district secretaries’ meeting.
However, OPS wanted a high-level committee, made up of senior leaders who worked with the party’s founder, MGR and Jayalalithaa, to be formed to lead the leadership.
He argued that after Jayalalithaa’s death, the party’s general council developed the dual leadership model and declared the late Jayalalithaa as the party’s eternal general secretary. He added any amendment would be a “betrayal”.
Jayalalithaa twice chose OPS by hand to be her prospective prime minister when she had to resign after her conviction. Although OPS was elevated for the third time just before his death, Jayalalithaa’s assistant UK Sasikala, who briefly took over the party, replaced him with EPS after he rebelled against her.
However, both leaders patched and suspended Ms Sasikala while she was in jail. OPS became the number one in the party and EPS his deputy. In government, OPS became Prime Minister EPS’s deputy.
During his four-year term as prime minister, EPS consolidated its position and brought the party under its control.
Speaking to techlives, senior leader and former minister D Jayakumar said: “The members of the party want EPS to be the general secretary. We will propose a resolution.”
He denied that the move could cause a rift in the party, saying simple leadership was “the need of the hour”.
After this development, celebrations were held with coconuts at OPS ‘residence. A leader close to him said: “OPS will attend the meeting.”
The meeting room at Vanagaram, just outside Chennai, came under police control as OPS apprehended violence and the court ordered police security.