The ruling AIADMK in Tamil Nadu today sacked jailed V K Sasikala as interim chief and made its late supremo Jayalalithaa the party's "eternal general secretary", sparking fresh confrontation with rebel leader TTV Dhinakaran who vowed to bring down the government.
The decision to annul the appointment of Sasikala, who was a close aide of Jayalalithaa, was taken by the unified AIADMK's General Council, the party's top policy making body, in a unanimous resolution adopted at its meeting.
The Council also asserted the supremacy of Chief Minister K Palaniswami and his deputy O Panneerselvam. Panneerselvam and Palaniswami, who are Co-ordinator and Joint Coordinator respectively of AIADMK, were vested with full executive powers.
Showing the door to Sasikala, the meeting unanimously declared that all appointments made by her, including that of naming her nephew Dhinakaran as Deputy General Secretary, was invalid.
"Following an atmosphere of shock after Amma's (Jayalalithaa) untimely death... V K Sasikala was appointed as interim general secretary to attend to routine party work," a resolution said.
"It is unanimously resolved to cancel her appointment made on December 29,2016.... And all appointments and removals made by her between December 30, 2016 and February 15, 2017 are not valid," the resolution added.
Sasikala, among others, named Dhinakaran as deputy general secretary and reinstated S Venkatesh, another relative in the party, before surrendering in a Bengaluru court on February 15 following her conviction in a graft case.
In its first meet after the Palaniswami and Panneerselvam factions merged last month, AIADMK (formally AIADMK, Amma-Puratchi Thalaivi Amma) resolved to venerate the late Jayalalithaa as the "eternal party general secretary."
It said "hereafter, no one will be elected general secretary or appointed to that post."
"Accordingly, bylaw no.43 is being amended. The General Council unanimously approves this," another resolution said.
A combative Dhinakaran sought to play down the decision to annul the appointment of his aunt, indicating that the court could have a final say on the matter.
Dhinakaran also dubbed the general council meeting, where the decision was taken, as a 'public meeting' and said he had undertaken efforts to "send home this regime" (led by Chief Minister K Palaniswami). The Dhinakaran camp claims a support of 19 MLAs.
The AIADMK has 134 MLAs in the 233-member House-a seat is lying vacant after the death of Jayalalithaa. The majority mark is 117.
Dhinakaran told reporters in Madurai that Sasikala alone had the right to convene the general council meeting and dared the camp led by Palaniswami to dissolve the assembly and face elections if the party was with them as they claim.
Referring to the Madras High Court's order that decisions taken at today's General Council will be subject to the final outcome of an appeal on the matter, he said only then will it be known if the ouster of Sasikala was 'valid.'
The much awaited meet of the AIADMK General Council saw amendments to party bylaws to ratify the party posts of 'Coordinator' (Panneerselvam) and 'Joint Coordinator' (Palaniswami) announced on August 21, the day the factions merged last month.
As per the new amendments, the coordinator and joint coordinator will be the top two power poles with full powers and jointly administer all party executive functions.
They alone have powers to appoint members to the party's Parliamentary Board, announce rules for party polls and sign 'Authorisation Form' of candidates to poll authorities.
The coordinator and joint coordinator will hold office for five years and will be elected by the general council members. Palaniswami and Panneerselvam will hold their positions till elections are held.
The party said the decisions have the full backing of all (about 2,300) the general council members.
In effect, the posts of coordinator and joint coordinator replaces the hitherto numero uno position of general secretary held by Jayalalithaa, which was abolished.
The meet gave its approval to functionaries appointed by Jayalalithaa and who were elected in party polls and passed a separate resolution nullifying the recent spate of appointments by Dhinakaran.
It formally put its seal of approval on the merger of the factions led by Palaniswami and Panneerselvam and resolved to retrieve the two-leaves symbol of the party, which was frozen by the Election Commission.
The top party meet comes after the green signal by the Madras High Court, which yesterday declined a plea to stay the event.
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