Amid chaos, the AIADMK General Council (GC) meeting on Thursday announced that the only demand from the GC members is to bring in a single leadership system for the party, led by joint coordinator Edappadi K Palaniswami ( EPS).
The Executive and General Council meeting held together saw EPS emerge as the supreme leader and he was honored by supporters with a decorated crown, a sword and a scepter.
EPS’s colleague and coordinator O Panneerselvam, popularly known as OPS, was allegedly robbed at the event and rude slogans were shouted at him.
The meeting, which remained at the sole demand to make EPS the supreme party leader, turned out to be a full show of strength of the Palaniswami camp with OPS followers in the numbers.
Panneerselvam Camp immediately declared the proceedings invalid and OPS, a three-time prime minister is likely to fly to Delhi to explore options such as approaching the Electoral Commission to continue its fight against EPS faction.
While the EPS camp claimed that the GC would meet again on July 11 to elect Palaniswami as the party leader, OPS group said that this is not possible as only coordinator and joint coordinator have the powers to convene the meeting and not the presidium chairman.
The meeting was a signpost to the region and caste-based groupings within the AIADMK.
Within the party, most belonging to the Vanniyakula Kshathriyas community, also known as Vanniyars, predominantly in northern Tamil Nadu and the Gounders, seen as displacements and shakes of the western region, preferred EPS.
Panneerselvam’s loyalists mostly belong to the southern parts of the state and to the Mukkulathor community, a most backward caste like Vanniyars. While OPS comes from the Mukkulathor community, EPS is a Gounder.
In OPS ‘home district Theni, his supporters held protest demonstrations and burned images of EPS. The western region of Tamil Nadu is considered a traditional bastion of the AIADMK.