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‘Unitary leadership not required at this moment’: Panneerselvam breaks silence on tussle with Palaniswami

Panneerselvam said he accepted the dual leadership and joined hands with Edappadi K Palaniswami at a time when there was a threat that the AIADMK government could collapse.

O Panneerselvam and Edappadi K Palaniswami. (File)

Former Chief Minister and AIADMK Coordinator O Panneerselvam finally broke his silence on Thursday on the ongoing power tussle between him and Leader of Opposition Edappadi K Palaniswami. In a packed press conference at his residence, the senior AIADMK leader put forth several points supporting his cause and most importantly noted that ‘unitary leadership’ is not required at this moment.

Panneerselvam said he accepted the dual leadership and joined hands with Edappadi K Palaniswami at a time when there was a threat that the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) government could collapse. He added that he “didn’t want the government formed by Amma (former Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa) to fall”.

“I was provided the Deputy Chief Minister post. The post had no significant value in our Indian constitution like the post of Chief Minister. I didn’t wish to take it up. The Prime Minister wanted to meet me and hence I reached Delhi and he told me to accept the position and since he urged me, I accepted it,” he said.

Commenting on the demand of unitary leadership within the party, Panneerselvam said everything was going well and suddenly even he doesn’t know from where this demand cropped up. “We were discussing things for the general council meeting, when the meeting was about to end, there was a demand for unitary leadership. The agenda was not discussed with me prior to the meeting. We were there as a part of the (party) high command, the discussion should have been made inside closed doors but this was spoken out in the district secretaries’ meeting and despite telling people not to discuss these things to the media, former minister D Jayakumar spoke about this and turned this into a huge issue. This has led to several incidents, I am urging the cadres to stay calm at this moment,” Panneerselvam said.

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When asked whether he thinks he is being sidelined by a group of people, Panneerselvam said he is present in the party only to safeguard the cadres. “I have served twice as the Chief Minister because of Amma and I worked with full satisfaction. Two days before Amma’s death, when her health was deteriorating, when a few told me to take up the Chief Minister’s post if something happens to Amma, I declined it. After much deliberation I said I will be at that position for three months and later they can choose whoever they want to for the position. So, I never aspired for any post and no one can separate me from the cadres,” he added.

Panneerselvam said he asked the senior leaders who came to meet him whether this demand for unitary leadership is required at this point as they have to work together as an Opposition and form the Amma government again. “Neither I nor Edappadi Palaniswami have shared anything on this issue (unitary leadership) to anyone. The dual leadership is going on fine at this moment. The general secretary’s post is reserved for Amma, the general council itself had passed a resolution stating that no one should come for that position. If a situation arises to provide the general secretary position to anyone, it will be the biggest betrayal we could do to our Puratchithalaivi Amma.”

Panneerselvam said he is always open to discuss the issue with Palaniswami and there is no question of ego as they have discussed so many issues together in the past.

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He also said that he urges the 14-member high level committee to come up with an amicable solution to the issue and he will accept whatever decision they take.

Commenting on whether there is a possibility of inducting expelled AIADMK leader V K Sasikala back into the party, Panneerselvam, like he had informed on previous occasions, said it’s up to the party high command to decide.

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Finally, when asked whether a smooth decision would be made before the party’s general council and executive meeting on June 23, Panneerselvam said, “I am praying to god for a smooth decision, you too pray for it.”

 

First published on: 16-06-2022 at 11:20:56 pm
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