Wednesday, March 29, 2023

AIADMK leadership row: Supreme Court orders factions to convene General Council meet, jointly select candidates for Erode bypolls

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The Supreme Court has directed the two factions of All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) party to convene a General Council meeting for selection of candidates to the upcoming bypolls of Erode East Assembly constituency.

The Bench of Justice Dinesh Maheshwari and Justice Hrishikesh Roy observed on Friday that while the verdict had been reserved on the leadership tussle between the factions led by O. Pannerselvam and Edapaddi Palaniswami, this was an interim arrangement for the coming by-election.

The Apex Court said that without prejudice to the rights of any other parties and conferring any additional right to any of the parties, the rival factions would jointly choose the candidates during the General Council of the party. 

Taking in view the time constraints, the decision-making process should involve putting necessary resolutions through circulation, it added.

The Bench further said that during the process for arriving at names, the expulsions shall not be in place in the interim. The aforesaid three persons, in other words, can put forth their views too for this limited purpose, noted the Court.

As per the Supreme Court order, Panneerselvam’s expulsion from the party stands set aside for the time being.

The leadership crisis in AIADMK began after the death of former Chief Minister and party’s General Secretary J. Jayalalithaa and widened after the arrest of subsequent interim General Secretary V Sasikala.

Both Palaniswami and Panneerselvam then held the posts of Joint coordinator and coordinator of the party, respectively. Their tenure, as per Panneerselvam, was supposed to lapse on June 23, 2022.

Following AIADMK’s defeat in the state elections in 2021, a section of the office-bearers sought to amend the party’s by-laws so that there will be a single leader for the party.

The party had conducted a General Council meeting on July 11 last year, which passed resolutions to abolish the posts of Joint Coordinator and Coordinator and restore the post of General Secretary. The Palaniswami camp further removed Panneerselvam from the post of coordinator and from the primary membership of AIADMK during the meeting.

Even though Panneerselvam was expelled, the faction led by him, apart from the Palaniswami camp, fielded candidates on behalf of the party for the recent by-elections in Tamil Nadu to the Erode east seat. This led to the dispute reaching the court.

Last year, the Madras High Court had upheld the resolution passed at the General Council meeting that expelled Panneerselvam and appointed Palaniswami as the interim General Secretary of AIADMK.

In January, 2023, the top court of the country had reserved its verdict on an appeal moved by the Panneerselvam camp against the Madras High Court order.

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