In a fresh twist to the tussle over the AIADMK, former chief minister J Jayalalithaa’s close V K Sasikala has now written to the Election Commission (EC) of India seeking intervention to ensure election for the post of general secretary in the party.
Sasikala, who is currently serving a jail term in a Bangalore prison in a disproportionate asset case, was expelled from the AIADMK along with her nephew T T V Dhinakaran, after the merger of the two factions led by Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami and O Panneerselvam in August 2017.
In her 12-page letter, Sasikala has claimed that she was elected the party’s general secretary in December 2016, after the demise of Jayalalithaa. Citing an invitation that was extended to her for attending the seventh national voters’ day celebrations held in Delhi in January 2017, she claimed that her election to the post was also recognised by the EC.
She also claimed that she was expelled from AIADMK following a merger of Palaniswami and Panneerselvam factions without following set procedures. She reminded the EC that as a general secretary, she had expelled party leaders O Panneerselvam, S Semmalai and E Madhusudanan in February 2017 – seven months before she was deposed from the party in her absence.
She also said that it was the poll commission’s duty to make sure that the AIADMK – a recognised political party – held internal elections in a “democratic way” as per the Constitution. She also sought a personal hearing through her counsel.
Her letter to the EC comes at a time when speculation of a possible alliance between the BJP and AIADMK in the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections is rife.
A senior AIADMK leader, without wishing to be named, said Sasikala’s attempt was to “create further trouble” even when she will be released from prison only by the end of 2020. “There is no question of Sasikala to have a stake in party general secretary election when she was expelled and her family has started a new political party. Our party was founded by MGR and became a big success under Amma (Jayalalithaa). Sasikala cannot make it as her family property,” the leader said. Dhinakaran has launch the Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam (AMMK).
Responding to the latest move of the Sasikala camp, Deputy Chief Minister and AIADMK coordinator, Panneerselvam, said the party’s general council will be convened soon to decide on the amendments to its constitution.
“She (Sasikala) was removed from the party general secretary post, she is not even a primary member of the party now,” he said.
During the merger of Palaniswami and Panneerselvam factions, the party general council had scrapped the post of general secretary, which was earlier held by Jayalalithaa. After Jayalalithaa’s demise, Sasikala was the general secretary of the party for a period of nine months.
Currently, Panneerselvam is the coordinator and Palaniswami is the joint coordinator of the ruling party, however, the larger party mechanism and the government are controlled by the faction led by the Chief Minister with maximum power and posts in the party as well as the government.
Under the two leaders, the AIADMK has lost over 40 lakh party members, a huge decline from a total of 1.5 crore party members claimed by Jayalalithaa earlier.