AIADMK rejig and the fate OPS finds himself in

Allegations of anti-party activities have brought to AIADMK’s OPS an expulsion order

AIADMK, the main opposition party in Tamil Nadu, is undergoing a churn. What this will mean to the voters is a question that would seek answers in the short-term. Nonetheless, the party has undergone a major revamp, and at the centre of it all are, as in the post-Jayalalithaa era, two leaders – Edappadi K Palaniswami and O Paneerselvam.

O Paneerselvam (or OPS as he is known as), till recently a man no one in the party could ignore, is however, ending up on the losing side. Allegations of anti-party activities, amounting to a truck with the prime rival and ruling front DMK, have brought to OPS and expulsion order by the party men and women who have anointed Edappadi Palaniswani (EPS) as the AIADMK supremo.

It all happened at the meeting of the General Council of as many as 2,500 members in Chennai. The party which has been run through a dual-leadership model till date after the passing away of former Chief Minister and party supremo J Jayalalithaa, chose to put an end to such a model and elevated EPS as the party’s interim general secretary. What came as bolt was the expulsion of OPS, with party members standing firm against the alleged anti-party activities that he had resorted to. Till this decision came about OPS was Coordinator and EPS its Joint Coordinator. When EPS was made Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu during the party’s last term in power, OPS had agreed to play the deputy role.

Bolt from the blue for OPS

Significantly enough, EPS was made Chief Minister by Sasikala, who was Jayalalithaa’s close confidante and party general secretary. Sasikala has chosen EPS when she was sent to jail. OPS was the odd man out then. However, as Sasikala was languishing in prison, EPS and OPS came closer with each other and decided to expel Sasikala. It was after that EPS and OPS worked hand in hand to drive the party forward.

Now with EPS and his followers deciding to expel OPS and his trusted men like R Vaithilingam and P H Manoj Pandian from the AIADMK, the journey seems to have come full circle for OPS.

The allegation that OPS had aligned with the DMK regime to weaken the AIADMK came as a big blow to OPS. However, the seasoned politician that he is, OPS has rubbished his expulsion saying that he was made Coordinator of the party by as many as 1.5 crore party workers. According to him, EPS, or any leader for that matter, has zero right to throw him out of the party.

Muddy road ahead

What the new development gifts OPS is a no-brainer. With powerful men like EPS and his supporters calling the shots, O Paneerselvam might have no other way but to stand aside. Will he have his supporters stand up for him is to be seen. But going by the way the AIADMK juggernaut now powers itself forward with EPS at the wheel, OPS doesn’t have a chance. The man who has always relegated to playing second fiddle camp doesn’t have the ammunition to strike against those who have hurt him.

EPS on the other hand has consolidated his position beyond doubt. Sasikala is now out of prison, and her next move could mean significant in the coming days. All said, Edappadi Palaniswani wouldn’t want to take any risk, and will look to consolidate his position.

Sanjeev Ramachandran

A journalist with 23 years of experience, Sanjeev has worked with reputed media houses such as Business Standard, The Ne More »

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