The crisis in the AIADMK, which has been split into two factions after the demise of former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa, has deepened. The situation now appears similar to the recent tussle between Mulayam Singh Yadav and his son Akhilesh Yadav, when a tug of war broke out between two factions as to whose Samajwadi Party will be the real.
The round two will now be fought within the party as the Panneerselvam faction of the AIADMK has moved the Election Commission challenging the election of Sasikala as general secretary of the party, saying she was elevated in violation of the norms. Acting quickly, the EC has sent a notice to Sasikala.
A 12-member delegation of the faction had met Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi and other top officials, and submitted a memorandum demanding that it decline approval to her elevation to the top party post.
In its 42-page petition, the delegation claimed Sasikala’s election was violative of the party constitution as she was chosen by the general council of the party and not the primary members.
It said the general council was empowered to frame policies and programmes, and not elect someone as general secretary.
Panneerselvam, the outgoing Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, expelled from AIADMK by Sasikala, has claimed she lacked necessary powers to sack him. He also said in Chennai on Friday that his fight against Sasikala and her family will continue till the time "J Jayalalithaa's regime is restored".
"Let us all together stop the party and government from going into the hands of a single family again. Let us form a people's government again in sync with the aspirations of people and till then this struggle will continue," he said.
On Friday, the Election Commission asked V K Sasikala to respond to a petition filed against her challenging her appointment as AIADMK interim general secretary by the O Panneerselvam camp.
The EC made it clear that if she fails to answer, it will be “presumed” that she has no comments to offer and it will proceed in the matter accordingly.
The Commission has send the notice to Sasikala currently “lodged in the Parappana Agarhara prison” in Bengaluru and has sought her response by February 28.
The Commission issued the notice just a day after the Panneerselvam camp led by Rajya Sabha MP V Maitreyan submitted two petitions against Sasikala’s elevation.
While forwarding her copies of the petition, the Commission asked her to respond by February 28 “failing which it will be presumed that you have no comments to offer and the Commission will take appropriate action in the matter”.
When the AIADMK MLAs gathered at Raj Bhavan for the swearing-in ceremony, O Panneerselvam, who revolted against AIADMK general secretary V K Sasikala, suddenly found himself alone with only a handful of MPs standing with him.
He was confident that after Sasikala’s conviction in DA case, party MLAs will switch to his camp. But his takeover plan did not succeed as not even one crossed over, at least so far.
Panneerselvam’s house was stoned by men suspected to be supporters of the rival camp when Edappadi Palaniswami was sworn in as Chief Minister.
In first remarks after the Governor invited Palanisami to take charge, Panneerselvam said: “We will win this struggle with the support of Amma’s followers.”
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On Wednesday, Sasikala was sent to jail after she surrendered before a trial court, a day after the Supreme Court restored her conviction in the disproportionate assets case.
The Panneerselvam-Sasikala battle also brings back the memories of the split between Jayalalithaa and MG Ramachandran’s wife Janaki after his demise in December 1987.
Now, the question is who will get the hold of AIADMK – Sasikala or Panneerselvam?
(With PTI inputs)