The AIADMK faction headed by former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam on Friday petitioned the Election Commission to declare as illegal V.K. Sasikala's appointment as the party General Secretary and to freeze Treasurer Dindugal Srinivsan's powers to withdraw crores of rupees from the party funds.
The Panneerselvam faction ruled out immediate resumption of talks with the rival faction headed by Chief Minister Edappadi Palanisamy unless it formally expelled Sasikala and her nephew T.T.V. Dinakaran from the party.
It gave a 170-page memorandum to the commission to declare Sasikala's nomination as General Secretary as "illegal" after the death of Jayalalithaa. It referred to the Election Commission website which does not name anyone against the post of the AIADMK General Secretary, and said it should make a de jure declaration to that effect.
Panneerselvam said the EC should take an early decision on the issue as the commission's website does not show any name against the party General Secretary and the EC has not upheld the appointment of Sasikala.
He maintained that as he (Panneerselvam) was the AIADMK Treasurer appointed by Jayalalithaa, he has written to the banks to freeze the funds but they have not done so in violation of party rules. It is for the EC and the Reserve Bank of India to intervene and ensure that continued withdrawal of party funds by Srinivasan is not allowed, he said.
Panneerselvam said as per the party constitution, he should have been allowed to run the party after the demise of Jayalalithaa as per standard practice laid down by Jayalalithaa whenever extraordinary occasions arose.
During such occasions, Jayalalithaa used to nominate the Presidium Chairman and Treasurer to run the party and by that practice he should have been allowed to head the party.
"But Sasikala was nominated General Secretary in violation of party constitution, which says that the post can be filled up only through election. She has no right to continue in the post," he said.
On merger talks, Paneerselvam said, "Our group has launched a 'dharma yudh' for upholding the principles laid down by the late MGR and Jayalalithaa that the party should not go into the hands of any family, least of all into the hands of Sasikala and T.T.V. Dinakaran."
He said, "Even now the official party organ 'Namadhu MGR' carries statements in the name of Deputy General Secretary T.T.V. Dinakaran. How can we take a decision to enter into talks with them (the faction headed by Chief Minister Edappadi Palanisamy) in such circumstances?"
The day the rival faction led by the Chief Minister declares that they have thrown out Sasikala and Dinakaran from the party, there will be smooth resumption of merger talks, he said.
Asked who was the stumbling block in the merger talks, Panneerselvam said the media understood all the issues and why the merger process was "slow".
"People know who are the stumbling blocks. We have taken a decision that we will stick to the basics of the principles laid down by MGR and Jayalalithaa and keep family rule out," he said.
In reply to another question about who was dominating the rival faction, K. Munuswamy, a senior leader of the faction and a former minister, said even now the party was being run by Diwakar, another relative of Sasikala.
"Benami hands are still dominating the party. They (Chief Minister's faction) have still not expelled them (Sasikala and Dinakaran). We have two demands, a CBI probe into the death of Jayalalithaa and expulsion of Sasikala and Dinakaran. Once that is done, it is very easy to resume merger talks," Munuswamy said.
He added that the people and AIADMK cardre are with his faction and this will be proved by the people in times to come. It was already visible during the recently-cancelled byelection from the R.K. Nagar assembly constituency in Chennai.
Replying to a question, Panneerselvam noted renewed efforts of DMK Working President M.K. Stalin to reconnect with people, which he said was a bid to come back to power.
Asked about the group's strategy in the presidential election, Panneerselvam said the election has not been announced nor has any candidate or party made any declaration. Once that is done, the party leadership will meet and take a decision, he added.