In the melee, Edappadi K Palaniswami emerges silent killer

By SM.13 Sep, 2017


CHENNAI: The AIADMK general council has marked the arrival of a master strategist -chief minister Edappadi K Palaniswami -in the party. In one fell swoop, he ousted V K Sasikala from the party leadership and pre-empted his deputy O Panneerselvam from occupying the post of party general secretary.

Panneerselvam was hoping to become the party general secretary as and when an election, complying with provisions of the party bylaw, was held for the post. By scrapping the general secretary post itself permanently , EPS has dashed all of OPS"s hopes.

Having tasted power, he is in no mood to give it up. While Palaniswami himself is the boss in the government, he does not want another boss above him in the party . In the administrative mechanism that the new leadership has unveiled, decision-making powers are vested with the steering committee. Despite giving the post of coordinator to OPS, Palaniswami has kept enough control and power to himself by becoming joint-coordinator of the committee.

Palaniswami may not allow OPS to be more than equal to him in the party .It was Sasikala who made Palaniswami chief minister. But after he assumed office as CM, he has been strengthening his position by creating a support base around him. Despite the hiccups caused by T T V Dhinakaran, who created a 21-legislator-strong rebel group, the majority of MLAs are still with EPS. The kingmaker Sasikala and her nominee Dhinakaran are struggling for survival. Moreover, he has been able to thwart the challenge that Panneerselvam posed by with a merger of the two factions.

Suspecting that a handful of ministers and MLAs -who Dhinakaran claims to be members of his sleeper cell -could pose challenges, the argument put forth by the EPS camp is that till the election commission decides on de-freezing the party name and symbol, they should not precipitate matters further to trigger yet another bout of revolt.

OPS, despite being unhappy about not having much importance in the party or the government, may lie low for now. A source close to OPS said his powers have been clipped by EPS on most fronts, but he has chosen not to react.

"Perhaps it is not the right time for him to revolt either," the source said.

Political analyst Gnani Sankaran said it is good to see a semblance of inner party democracy and collective leadership evolving within the AIADMK."Palaniswami is a master strategist. None of these AIADMK leaders are dullheads. Nobody thought much about them in the past because they put up a facade when Jayalalithaa was alive. This was a strategy for them. Edappadi is not merely consolidating a support base, he is also striking compromises with all factional leaders to keep his government safe. That is how he has outsmarted Dhinakaran. Still, EPS and his government have chosen to remain submissive. Earlier they were submissive to the leader (Jayalalithaa), now they remain submissive to Modi, " said Sankaran.