Rumblings in AIADMK over party’s choice for oppn leader | Chennai News – Times of India

Outgoing chief minister and AIADMK co-coordinator Edappadi K Palaniswami and party coordinator O Panneerselvam.

CHENNAI/SALEM: A day after the Tamil Nadu assembly poll results, divisions within the vanquished AIADMK came to the fore on Monday. There were hectic parleys and some muscle flexing over who would be the leader of the opposition — outgoing chief minister and AIADMK co-coordinator Edappadi K Palaniswami or party coordinator O Panneerselvam.
The DMK alliance including the Congress, the MDMK, the VCK, the CPI and the CPM had won 159 seats, while the party on its own won 133 seats.
The AIADMK won 66 seats. Its alliance, which included the BJP and the PMK, won 75 seats. On Monday, hours after EPS resigned as CM following his party’s defeat, the AIADMK issued a statement convening a meeting of its elected representatives on May 7. DMK president and CM-designate M K Stalin is scheduled to be assume office on the same day. The AIADMK’s release, signed by OPS and EPS, did not, however, mention a reason for the meeting, except to say that all MLAs should be present. But another joint statement said the party would function as a responsible opposition in the legislative assembly.
Meanwhile, in the evening, several ministers arrived at Palaniswami’s residence in Salem, ostensibly to seek his blessings. They included K A Sengottaiyan, P Thangamani, K C Karuppannan, K P Anbalagan, Sevoor Ramachandran, Dindigul C Sreenivasan and Rajya Sabha MP K P Munusamy, who also won the Veppanahalli constituency in Krishnagiri district. Sources said the newly elected MLAs discussed with EPS for more than an hour the ‘agenda’ for the Friday meeting wherein the issue of who would be leader of the house was taken up.
“The dynamics of the dual leadership is proving to be a stumbling block,” said a close OPS associate. Both leaders want to be opposition leaders. While those close to OPS argue that as AIADMK coordinator, he should be chosen the leader of the opposition, EPS supporters say that as a CM candidate and having helped the party record an impressive victory in the western belt, by winning 38 of the 54 seats, he should be the leader of the opposition. The AIADMK’s victories in 15 of the 84 seats in the northern region is being attributed to EPS and his decision to concede to ally PMK’s demand for 10.5% vanniayar quota.
EPS won with a thumping margin of close to 94,000 votes in his Edappadi constituency whereas Panneerselvam’s victory margin was around 11,000. Moreover, the AIADMK won only 18 of the 60 seats in the south. “Only a handful of OPS supporters won in the south. The credit for winning most of the 66 seats goes to EPS. We are firm he should be made the leader of the opposition,” said an associate.
While the tug of war could cause further divisions within the AIADMK, the party is likely to thrash out a compromise formula to keep “bigger enemies” at bay.


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