As EPS-OPS Friction Escalates, AIADMK Feels the Heat

AIADMK on the verge of an EPS-OPS split? Here’s why the party’s called for a meeting, and the story so far.

2 min read
Tamil Nadu’s CM Edappadi Palaniswami and Deputy CM O Panneerselvam.

The AIADMK district secretary meeting on Wednesday, 12 June, sent a clear message to the party functionaries: keep calm and carry on.

Supporters of both Edappadi K Palaniswami and O Panneerselvam have raised the ‘Single Leader’ chorus, and have already put up a number of posters (illegally) in support of their chosen leaders. Is the party heading for a split?

The spark of the ‘Single Leader’ chorus, that has now necessitated a party-wide firefight, was struck by the 70-year-old MLA from Madurai, V V Rajan Chellappa.

Who is Rajan Chellappa?

V V Rajan Chellappa
V V Rajan Chellappa
(Photo Courtesy: Kalaignarseithigal)
“The party needs a ‘single leadership’ devoid of any motivation to take care of one’s ‘family’. Right now while we have two heads, we do not know who has the power. A committee must be formed and a single general secretary must be appointed.”
V V Rajan Chellappa, MLA (Madurai North), at a public meeting.

Rajan Chellappa is an AIADMK MLA from Madurai, who also served as the city’s Mayor between 2011 and 2016. In a public meeting attended by other local party-workers and members of other local parties who contested under the twin leaves symbol, he took potshots at the leadership of his own party.

While he did not mention which leader he rooted for, his comments on partiality to a ‘family’ were clearly meant to point fingers at Edappadi Palaniswami, who was an ardent supporter of Sasikala.

In local parlance in Tamil Nadu, the term ‘family’ is used in political circles to mean two things; Kalaignar’s ‘family’ of sons and relatives who have been given positions of power in the DMK or business empires. And in the AIADMK, Sasikala’s family, who has managed and controlled most of Jayalalithaa’s undertakings and a number of government contracts, while in power. 

All is Not Well Between OPS and EPS

While the Narendra Modi government was busy forming the new cabinet, friction between EPS and OPS escalated, over their choices of a candidate for the ministerial berth.

Edappadi Palaniswami was in favour of R Vaithilingam, who is currently a Rajyasabha MP, and who defected back to EPS’ faction from TTV Dhinakaran’s.

Panneerselvam, on the other hand, wanted his son, Raveendranath Kumar to get the ministerial berth. After all, Raveendranath was the only AIADMK MLA to have won a seat in the 2019 elections, having defeated his rival from the Congress EVKS Elangovan.

Anticlimactically, ministerial berths were allotted to any representatives from Tamil Nadu.

Regardless of the friction within the party, and the party-workers’ chorus of a ‘single leader’ growing strong, EPS and OPS have no other recourse, than to settle their differences, and maintain peace within the party. A split at this point of time would spell doom for the AIADMK, and necessitate bypolls, which it would surely lose. After all, it is only a matter of another two and a half years.

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