O. Paneerselvam, Sasikala both called for the party’s return to power
The inauguration of the AIADMK’s golden jubilee celebration on Sunday saw rival camps holding separate events.
While the official camp led by coordinator O. Panneerselvam and co-coordinator Edappadi K Palaniswami hoisted the party flag at the headquarters of the organisation in Royapettah, the other camp, led by V.K. Sasikala, former interim general secretary of the party, did the same at the memorial house of the party founder and former Chief Minister M.G. Ramachandran in T. Nagar. The leaders were greeted by their followers on the path leading to the venues of their functions.
Later, Ms. Sasikala appealed for “unity and the restoration of the AIADMK’s rule” in the State at an event at the private residence of MGR in Ramapuram, near Chennai, where she partook in a feast along with school children. The plaque, noticed at the memorial house and prepared for the celebration’s inauguration, described Ms. Sasikala as the “[All India Anna Dravida Munnetra] Kazhagam general secretary.”
Taking exception to Ms. Sasikala using the party flag on her car and getting identified as the AIADMK general secretary, D. Jayakumar, organisation secretary and former AIADMK Minister, asserted that she had “neither moral right nor legal right” to use the party name and call herself the general secretary. This act amounted to “violation of the Election Commission’s rules and contempt of court,” Mr. Jayakumar contended, holding Ms. Sasikala and her family responsible for the defeat of the AIADMK in the 1996 Assembly election.
Emphasising that Jayalalithaa would remain the “permanent general secretary,” the former Minister questioned the need for Ms. Sasikala being referred to as “Thyagathai” (“mother of sacrifice”) and said no volunteer of the AIADMK would accept Ms. Sasikala, irrespective of such portrayals by her camp.
Addressing the gathering, which included former Minister M. Anandan and former Chief Government Whip in the Assembly, P.M. Narasimhan, at Ramapuram, Ms. Sasikala, alluding to the assumption of office by Mr. Palaniswami and his team of Ministers in February 2017, recalled that “even at trying times,” she had ensured that the party remained in power. She had stepped aside from politics as she did not want “an inch of damage” to be caused to the party. “The Kazhagam is our temple. It is the responsibility of all of us to protect throughout our life the Kazhagam, which has grown out of the sacrifice of Puratchi Thalaivar [MGR] and the dedication of Amma [Jayalalithaa]. The need of the hour is unity,” she said and added that it was “divisions among us that has given the space to our enemy.”
Mr. Panneerselvam and Mr. Palaniswami, accompanied by senior leaders, paid floral homage at the mausoleums of C.N. Annadurai, MGR and Jayalalithaa on the Marina. At the party headquarters, they handed over a demand draft for ₹3 lakh each to the families of five deceased workers of the party. They launched a CD of the party song and a publication of poetry, besides participating in a feast.
In a statement, Mr. Panneerselvam said the DMK regime, which had captured power on the basis of “false assurances,” was now struggling to fulfil their promises. The DMK was now “in the grip of a family,” he said, urging his party members to work for the AIADMK’s return to power.