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EPS, Amit Shah meet today, hopes to settle any lingering leadership uncertainty

Edappadi K Palaniswami is also likely to bring up other leaders like T T V Dhinakaran and V K Sasikala, who have also been contenders for control of the party.

AIADMK leader Edappadi K Palaniswami and Union Minister and BJP leader Amit Shah (File/PTI)

Edappadi K Palaniswami, the interim general secretary of the AIADMK, is set to meet Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Tuesday, in what the party hopes will clear any questions over the leadership issue.

The meeting comes ahead of BJP national president J P Nadda’s trip to Tamil Nadu on September 22 and 23, and is also significant as a much-speculated meeting between Palaniswami and Prime Minister Narendra Modi did not happen during Modi’s last trip to Chennai.

In a reference to the legal ambiguities that still exist in the AIADMK over the tussle between Palaniswami and ousted leader O Panneerselvam for party leadership, a senior AIADMK leader familiar with the Delhi meeting plans said: “It will make things right.”

According to the leader, EPS will update Shah on what’s going on in the party and how a majority of the members and leaders support the single leadership system put in place at the general council meeting on July 11, where Palaniswami was made interim general secretary.

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The post makes Palaniswami the most important leader in the AIADMK. The late J Jayalalithaa was the last general secretary of the party. “Almost everyone in the AIADMK has now lined up behind Palaniswami, barring less than half-a-dozen people led by Panneerselvam,” the leader said.

Palaniswami is also likely to bring up other leaders like T T V Dhinakaran and V K Sasikala, who have also been contenders for control of the party. “He will tell Shah that there is no room for talks with them,” the AIADMK leader said.

AIADMK sources admitted that a meeting with Modi was long-awaited. “During his last visit to Chennai, we did try to meet him at the Raj Bhavan. But there was no time set aside, and the only thing that happened was a courtesy meeting at the airport. The BJP told us then that we would meet soon in Delhi,” the leader said.

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While the BJP and RSS leadership supported Panneerselvam as Jayalalithaa’s successor initially, there is a realisation now that he has lost ground to Palaniswami. While Panneerselvam had tried to garner some support by warming up to Sasikala and nephew Dhinakaran, the latter has largely kept her distance since she came out of jail after serving time on corruption charges.

Among Panneerselvam’s main backers was RSS ideologue S Gurumurthy, who often claims to have mentored him to rebel against Sasikala following Jayalalithaa’s demise. Current BJP state president K Annamalai, however, has been courting Palaniswami as his popularity grows. The two leaders also belong to the same region – Kongu in Western Tamil Nadu.

First published on: 20-09-2022 at 02:00:07 pm
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