The internal rift within the ruling AIADMK in Tamil Nadu widened on Tuesday with both the factions – one led by Chief Minister K Palaniswami and another by his Deputy O Panneerselvam, together passing a resolution to oust graft convict VK Sasikala from the party’s general secretary post. However, the road is not all clear for the ruling group of the AIADMK because the decision needs to be ratified by the Madras High Court.
The decision was taken during the General Council meeting which also annulled the appointments done by Sasikala before going to jail, including making her nephew TTV Dinakaran the party Deputy General Secretary. With this decision, all appointments made by Dinakaran also stands null and void.
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Sasikala was appointed interim general secretary last December following the death of party supremo Jayalalithaa. Sasikala had appointed Dinakaran as Deputy General Secretary before going to jail.
Besides, the council altered the party's organisational structure to a collective leadership structure, amending the party rules whereby none will be elected or nominated to the post of General Secretary - a position held by party supremo and late CM J Jayalalithaa till her death. It was also decided that party Coordinator, currently held Panneerselvam and Joint Coordinator, currently held Palaniswami will oversee the party affairs.
According to a new rule, persons to be appointed to the posts of Coordinator and Joint Coordinator will be elected by the General Council. The elections to both the posts will be held after every five years.
A total of 14 resolutions including the ones hailing the merger of two factions; the government for celebrating the birth centenary of late CM MG Ramachandran and AIADMK Founder; the decision of the government to build a memorial for Jayalalithaa and others were passed at the General Council meeting that was attended by around 2,140 members.
Meanwhile, loyalists of Dinakaran, including law makers and members of General Council, boycotted the meeting. Reacting to the General Council resolutions Dinakaran said that the Madras High Court on Monday had said the decisions of the meeting are subject to its final judgement in a case filed against the holding of the meeting.
Downplaying the unified AIADMK's decision annulling the appointment of his aunt Sasikala as party interim chief, a combative Dhinakaran asserted that Sasikala alone had the right to convene the general council meeting and dared the camp led by Palaniswami to dissolve the assembly and face elections if the party was with them as they claim.
"They (Palaniswami and deputy chief minister O Paneerselvam and others) selected Sasikala as the General Secretary. But after Sasikala went to jail they started taking steps arbitrarily," he told reporters here.
Dinakaran, who is leading 21 party legislators, said that he would work towards bringing down the Palaniswami government. "You (Chief Minister Palaniswami) and others have no moral right to sit in positions of power that was once wielded by Jayalalithaa. We will send this government home."
CR Saraswathi, spokesperson of Dinakaran faction, criticised the resolution that says that the General Secretary will be elected by the primary members of the party if there is an election. “The amendment by the ruling faction has effectively taken away the only right of the 1.5 crore members.”
As per AIADMK constitution, the party General Secretary is elected directly by the primary members. The party has around 1.5 crore members.
Saraswathi noted that as per the amended rule, a primary member who had the power to elect the top most leader of the party can now elect only the local level office bearers. The leader said that thus is a great let down for the party cadres who slog it out during the elections and at other times. She added that the decision may not be legally tenable.
Many party officials from the ruling side said that the dismissal of Sasikala and her family from the party may happen now - under the new organisational structure. One of the basic demands of Panneerselvam camp for the merger with Palaniswami was the dismissal of Sasikala and her family members from the party.
The General Council also resolved to restore all those who were party office bearers appointed by Jayalalithaa. They will continue to hold office now, it said.
DMK demands floor test
On the other hand, DMK working president MK Stalin said that his party will move a no-confidence motion against the K Palaniswami government in the event of the assembly being convened. The Leader of Opposition, who has been demanding that Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao direct a floor test for the government, also questioned the claims of ruling dispensation that it had the required majority.
"If the Chief Minister has the guts to prove the confidence on him (by way of a confidence vote), he will recommend to the Governor to convene the Assembly. If they convene the Assembly, we will certainly move no-confidence motion," he told reporters.
Stalin had on Sunday called on the Governor and urged him to direct the state government to prove its majority in the assembly within a week, in the wake of the revolt by 19 AIADMK MLAs against the Chief Minister last month.