CHENNAI: Nearly five years after amending the AIADMK’s constitution, making Jayalalithaa the ‘eternal general secretary’ and introducing a twinleadership concept, former chief minister and joint coordinator Edappadi K Palaniswami seeks to turn the AIADMK into a singleboss party, again. For this, he has called for a general council meeting of the party on Thursday.
Still enjoying equal, if not more, power on paper, former chief minister O Panneerselvam does not want to loosen his grip. Here is an explainer by A Subramani on who wants what, and what the party rules say:
› What does O Panneerselvam say?
Not against conducting the general council meeting on Thursday, but only the 23 already agreed/vetted resolutions should be placed before it. There shall not be a new resolution favoring single leadership, such as general secretary post, for the party.
› What does Edappadi K Palaniswami say?
No general council meeting of the AIADMK had ever had an agenda prior to the meeting. Any resolution is possible, and therefore no stay should be granted restraining the council from adopting any resolution.
› How important is the general council, according to the AIADMK constitution?
Rule 19 (i) reads: The general council shall be the supreme body of the party with all powers of the kazhagam. Rule 19 (viii) reads: The general council will be the supreme authority to frame policies and programs of the party and for their implementation. The decision of the general council is final and binding on all the members of the party. Rule 43 reads: The general council will have powers to frame, amend or delete any of the rules of the party constitution.
› Which office-bearer holds maximum power in the AIADMK?
The general secretary. As per Rule 20 (i): The general secretary will be responsible for the entire administration of the party. The general secretary shall be elected by the primary members of all the party units of Tamil Nadu and in other states.
The person is empowered to nominate and terminate other office bearers and initiate disciplinary proceedings. Anyone challenging the general secretary’s action in a court of law automatically loses primary membership of the party. Rule 43 says the general secretary should be elected only by all the primary members of the party, and it cannot be changed or amended since it forms basic structure of the party.
› What happened to the general secretary post after Jayalalithaa’s death on December 5, 2016?
At an emergency general council on December 29, 2016, the party appointed VK Sasikala as interim general secretary and assigned her all powers of the regular general secretary. However, after a vertical split in the party, then presidium chairman E Madhusudhanan went to the Election Commission of India to restrain Sasikala from continuing in the post.
On March 22, 2017, the ECI froze the Two Leaves symbol. On August 21, 2017, O Pannneerselvam and Edappadi K Palaniswami merged their facts. In the following general council meeting on September 12, 2017, the party constitution was amended making Jayalalithaa the ‘eternal general secretary’. It also created to new posts – coordinator and joint coordinator – thereby creating a dual leadership for the AIADMK.
› What are the powers of coordinator and joint coordinator?
As per the amended sub-clause viiii of Rule 20-A, the coordinator and the joint coordinator of the party shall have the power and responsibilities to convene the executive and general council meetings to implement policies and programs of the party as decided by the general council and executive council. According to the amended constitution of the executive committee dated December 1, 2021, the coordinator and joint coordinator have to be elected jointly by primary members on one ballot.
› Is there any other case in court?
Yes. A case filed by Sasikala against her removal as general secretary of the party, and another one filed by AIADMK ex-MP KC Palanisamy against the decisions made by the dual leadership of the party are pending before civil courts and the ECI.