AIADMK MLA indirectly bats for OPS to wield supreme power

MLA Rajan Chellappa addressing the media today.

Chennai: The murmurings within the AIADMK are growing louder with MLA Rajan Chellappa openly questioning the dual leadership of the party.

The MLA today told mediapersons that they would stress at the party’s general council meeting on a single person leading the AIADMK.

Couching his demand in fanciful words, he said they wanted the person whom late party leader Jayalalithaa had identified to replace her, to be their chosen leader. He was referring to O Pannerseelvam who twice served as interim Chief Minister when Jayalalithaa was imprisoned.

The MLA argued that the dual leadership delayed matters, especially while taking crucial decisions.

After the merger of O Panneerselvam’s faction with the AIADMK led by Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami in 2017, the two leaders divided their powers. While Palaniswami would remain the Chief Minister and O Panneerselvam the Deputy Chief Minister, OPS would be the coordinator of the AIADMK with EPS the co-coordinator.

But with the AIADMK winning just one seat in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections in alliance with the BJP and other parties – in Theni – there is disquiet in the party.

MLA Rajan Chellappa came out in the open today to raise some uncomfortable questions. He said nobody in the party now had the charismatic leadership qualities of Jayalalithaa.

He also said the party cadres were in a quandary about who wields power in the AIADMK now. Hence, he was against the dual leadership of the party and sought a single head to lead the Dravidian major.

The MLA, however, asserted that there was no inner party squabble and said many in the party had misgivings about this issue and wanted to iron out the wrinkles.

He raised the question as to why the nine MLAs, who won the recent State by-polls and thus ensured the continuity of the government, did not go to pay their respects at Jayalalithaa’s memorial when OPS and his MP-son P Raveendranath Kumar had done so a couple of days ago. “Who stopped the nine MLAs from accompanying Panneerselvam?” asked Rajan Chellappa.

NT Bureau