The tussle in the opposition AIADMK over the single leadership issue became rancorous with former Tamil Nadu chief minister O Panneerselvam on Saturday clearly asserting that he continued to function as the party’s coordinator.
Panneerselvam’s one-line retort appears to challenge the open submission of K Palaniswami that he ceases to be coordinator with effect from June 23.
“As per the party by-laws, I continue to be the AIADMK coordinator till date,” Panneerselvam told reporters after greeting NDA Presidential candidate Droupadi Murmu at a five-star hotel here.
Declining to take further questions on the ongoing leadership crisis in the party, Panneerselvam said he had called on Murmu and wholeheartedly extended AIADMK’s support for her in the election.
In his one-page letter addressed to his colleague on June 30, Palaniswami, buoyed by the support of majority members in the party, emphatically said that Panneerselvam ceased to be coordinator as the June 23 General Council of the AIADMK did not endorse the amendments made to party by-laws on December 1, 2021.
“Hence your post of coordinator ceases to exist,” Palaniswami said in the letter.
The Tamil Nadu unit of the BJP which continued to address the two leaders as coordinator and joint coordinator, ensured the infighting did not spill over during Murmu’s visit. Both the leaders were received cordially and introduced to the Presidential candidate. As Palaniswami, accompanied by his supporters, greeted Murmu, and took the stage, Panneerselvam along with his supporters waited in a room at the hotel and called on her after Palaniswami left.
“The AIADMK leaders sought for separate audience with our Presidential candidate and we obliged,” a senior leader in the BJP told PTI. The BJP leader exuded hope that the leadership struggle in the AIADMK would not affect the prospects of Murmu at the hustings.
Addressing Palaniswami as headquarters secretary of the AIADMK, his supporter and former state minister D Jayakumar blamed Panneerselvam for not abiding by the decision of the General Council.
“The General Council is the deciding authority. Panneerselvam is to be blamed for the crisis in the party,” he told reporters here.