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Political drama unfolds in Tamil Nadu as BJP ally ADMK to meet today amid demands of ‘single leader’ by EPS group

Vibha Sharma

New Delhi, June 23

A high political drama is unfolding in Tamil Nadu where the BJP ally AIADMK will hold its general council meeting on Thursday amid demands of “singular leadership” by the EPS group.

Party coordinator O Panneerselvam (OPS) had moved the Madras High Court on Wednesday night, pleading to prevent the scheduled meeting and party bylaws from being amended.

If the bylaws get amended, Edappadi K Palaniswamy (EPS) could be elected as the party’s general secretary.

After the death of J Jayalalitha, the post of general secretary was abolished and OPS named the coordinator and EPS the joint coordinator.

However, the EPS side claims that the situation is “confusing the cadres”.

EPS wants to take over the sole leadership of the party while OPS wants status quo or dual leadership.

Simmering under-the-surface for a while now, division between the two groups re-ignited and came into the open around the time of the announcement of the names for the recent Rajya Sabha election.

Supporters of EPS, who is the joint coordinator and Leader of Opposition in the Assembly, raised the demand for “single leadership” at a recent meeting called to discuss plans for the general council meeting scheduled for June 23.

Apparently, the demand (for single leadership) took the supporters of OPS, the AIADMK coordinator, by surprise. Later, posters supporting OPS as that one ‘single’ leader were spotted in several parts.

The issue is expected to be among the highlights of the general body and executive council meeting on Thursday.

Though Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently tried to put an end to the raging debate over the ‘Hindi imposition’, cadres are also believed to be against the alliance with the BJP, especially after the language row, and the general feeling is that the AIADMK should approach the 2024 general election with a clean slate.

The BJP, which is trying hard to be relevant in the southern state, is closely watching the internal developments within the ally.

Tamil Nadu and Kerala are the two southern states where the BJP has found the going tough, though the party is trying to strengthen itself at the booth level. While it has its government in Karnataka, its condition in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh is much better primarily because there are no language issues there.

The AIADMK entered into an electoral alliance with the BJP around five years back.

Recently, AIADMK organisational secretary C Ponnaiyan also made open accusations against the BJP-led central government. Jayalaithaa’s long-time confidant VK Sasikala is also making the most of the division, taking on the current AIADMK leadership for being a “weak opposition” to the ruling DMK.

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