CHENNAI: J Jayalalithaa will be the AIADMK’s “eternal general secretary,” Tamil Nadu’s ruling party said today, scrapping the post and sacking VK Sasikala, who is in jail. The party will be run by Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam as Chief Coordinator and Chief Minister E Palaniswami as his assistant at the head of an 11-member panel. Today’s meeting made a merger between factions led by the two leaders formal and voided all decisions made by Ms Sasikala as party chief, including the appointment of her nephew TTV Dhinakaran as the party’s number 2.
Here are the 10 updates in this big political story:
1.Today’s decisions are subject to the approval of the Madras High Court, which allowed the meeting to be held today, dismissing a petition by a Sasikala loyalist to put it on hold. On October 23, the court will decide on the other question levelled by the petition – whether the party is authorised to hold a general council, since it is the provenance of the General Secretary, a post Sasikala occupied.
2.The AIADMK reported 95% attendance at the meeting of over 2,000 party members. Eighteen legislators loyal to Ms Sasikala skipped the meeting, but the united AIADMK claims that already nine of them have pledged support to Chief Minister Palaniswami, also called EPS.
3.TTV Dinakaran slammed today’s decisions as “public meeting,” but already appeared toned down, not threatening to bring down the EPS government as he has so far been doing. It is seen to signal worry on how to keep his band of MLAs together.
4.Chief Minister E Palaniwami’s government can only be brought down if he loses a floor test or trust vote in the assembly. The AIADMK is confident it now has the support of 124 legislators, seven more than the 117 it needs to prove majority in the 234-member assembly.
5.Opposition leader MK Stalin of the DMK, who met the Governor on Sunday, claims that along with the 18 AIADMK legislators loyal to Mr Dhinakaran, 119 MLAs are against Mr Palaniswami and so his government is in trouble.
6.But a trust vote can only be held when the assembly is in session, unless the opposition demands that EPS prove his majority by bringing a no-confidence motion. The DMK is said to be reluctant to do that as it could push AIADMK legislators together to ensure the party remains in power.
7.Factions of the AIADMK led by the Chief Minister and Mr Panneerselvam or OPS came together last month after long and bitter negotiations. Sacking Ms Sasikala was a chief demand of OPS, who rebelled and split the party after she forced him to step down as Chief Minister in February last year.
8.VK Sasikala, Ms Jayalalithaa’s long-time live-in aide, had taken over as party chief days after the former chief minister died last December. Ms Sasikala also wanted to be chief minister and so made Mr Panneerselvam step down, but the Supreme Court convicted her in a corruption case. Before she left for prison in February, Ms Sasikla ensure her then loyalist E Palaniswami became Chief Minister and her nephew the party’s deputy chief.
9.Under the terms for last month’s merger, Mr Pannerselvam, who was Mr Palaniswami’s boss till February, is now his deputy and they have reversed that equation to run the party.
10.The merger was prompted by the AIADMK’s need to free the party’s famous two-leaf symbol ahead of crucial local elections. The symbol and party name were frozen by the Election Commission, which decided to award it to neither faction while hearing their petitions.