AIADMK coordinator O Panneerselvam on Monday made a cryptic remark, which is seen as a cue to his colleague and party joint coordinator K Palaniswami to consider taking V K Sasikala back into the party.
Apparently echoing the stand of Palaniswami camp, senior AIADMK leader D Jayakumar, ruled out any scope for taking Sasikala, the former aide of late party supremo J Jayalalithaa, back into the party. He dubbed her as a ‘rejected,’ and ‘failed,’ force.
Presiding over a Christmas event here, Panneerselvam, quoting the preaching of Jesus Christ, said if those who commit wrongs reform and return, accepting them back is leadership quality. However, he did not specifically name anyone.
Palaniswami was also present on the dais.
The top leader’s remark assumes significance as it comes just two weeks after he and Palaniswami were elected unopposed as party coordinator and co-coordinator, the top two party posts.
The AIADMK had on December 1 amended its bylaws to retain and strengthen the present leadership structure that vested powers with the positions of coordinator and co-coordinator held by Panneerselvam and ‘Edappadi’ K Palaniswami, popularly known as OPS and EPS.
On Panneerselvam’s remark, Durai Karuna, an expert in the evolution of the Dravidian movement in Tamil Nadu and an observer of AIADMK for decades, said it was a signal from OPS to EPS to take a relook into the scope for admitting Sasikala and her nephew TTV Dhinakaran back into the party.
Listing factors like the electoral debacle witnessed by the AIADMK in elections to the Lok Sabha (2019), the state Assembly and rural civic polls (both 2021), Karuna told PTI that Panneerselvam’s conviction is that the party could make a comeback only if ‘divided forces’ join hands together and take on the DMK.
However, the question of allowing Sasikala back into the party may be based on factors like her accepting the present leadership structure and agreeing to work within such a framework, he said.
OPS and Sasikala both belong to the Mukkalathor community, generally viewed as a traditional vote bank of the AIADMK and electorally dominant in southern Tamil Nadu.
OPS, who launched a ‘Dharma Yudham’ against her in early 2017, had thrown hints this year about accommodating Sasikala back into the party.
Ahead of his recent election as party coordinator, he had said that the party high command alone could take a decision on the matter.
AIADMK senior leader D Jayakumar said Panneerselvam did not imply admitting Sasikala again into the party. Inculcation of a sense of forgiveness is desirable in general and that was what OPS sought to convey, he said. However, there is no ‘pardon’ for Sasikala at all, Jayakumar said, adding OPS is also firm about it.
Citing petitions submitted to police authorities here against Sasikala using the party flag, name and the designation of ‘general secretary,’ he said this was done only after the approval of both Panneerselvam and Palaniswami. “This shows a clear, unanimous stand.”
The AIADMK’s official stand is quite clear and that is, Sasikala has nothing to do with the party and the organisation is being run well without her, he said and dubbed her as a ‘rejected’ and ‘failed’ force.
Right from OPS and EPS to all other leaders and cadres, everyone concurred on this issue, Jayakumar said ruling out any scope or place for her in the AIADMK.
Sasikala, eased out of the party years ago, continues to address herself as the AIADMK General Secretary (GS), a post held by Jayalalithaa. The AIADMK had declared Jayalalithaa as its ‘eternal’ GS and shifted powers of that top post to the twin positions of coordinator and co-coordinator.
Beginning with a prayer, the Christmas event was held at the Little Sisters of the Poor, a charity organisation here. OPS and EPS together cut the cake and gave away gifts like an electronic cot and distributed welfare assistance to 170 beneficiaries.
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