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Expelled AIADMK leader O Panneerselvam could not have expected the unkindest cut in his acrimonious power struggle with interim general secretary K Palaniswami through SC verdict

Tamil Nadu Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam addresses ahead of the state assembly election, in Chennai. (Photo: ANI)

O Panneerselvam (Photo: ANI)

Press Trust of India Chennai
Expelled AIADMK leader O Panneerselvam could not have expected the unkindest cut in his acrimonious power struggle with interim general secretary K Palaniswami through Thursday's Supreme Court verdict, which was a huge setback to his narrative for dual leadership in the party.
The ruling, upholding the order of the Madras High Court allowing Palaniswami to continue as the interim general secretary of the AIADMK, cast a shadow on the political career of OPS, a three-time Chief Minister. His few handful supporters claim he would rise again like the phoenix while those in the rival camp insist that its curtain down on his political career.
Panneerselvam's house wore a deserted look, leaving the leader too dazed to publicly react to the court's ruling and contrastingly the AIADMK workers at party headquarters here and other parts in the State are on cloud nine celebrating the verdict. "This is only a temporary setback to Panneerselvam, who is an old friend of mine. This three-time chief minister will establish himself," T T V Dhinakaran, general secretary of Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam said. In his opinion, Dhinakaran said, the verdict did not signify an end to the power struggle between Panneerselvam and Palaniswami.
"Panneerselvam won in the first round of the bout. Now it is now the turn of Palaniswamy. More rounds will follow. Let's wait and see," Dhinakaran who was earlier expelled from the AIADMK, told reporters here.
A senior functionary who is a supporter of Panneerselvam says "a new political chapter begins for him. Panneerselvam will rise again and get back the position in the party, as party founder M G Ramachandran had proved his capabilities when he was expelled from the DMK."

OPS would approach the people's court and win back political recognition, he added.
"It's the end of his political chapter. Whether he seeks public support or not is irrelevant. Panneerselvam has no option to even appeal against the Surpeme Court verdict now," says R M Babu Murugavel, AIADMK spokesperson.
Ottakarathevar Panneerselvam, popularly known as OPS, who was the coordinator of the AIADMK, had won for the third consecutive time from Bodinayakanur constituency in the verdant Theni district in 2021. The 72-year-old diehard loyalist of late J Jayalalithaa had served as CM twice - in 2001 and 2014 - when Jayalalithaa had to step down after she was convicted in the disproportionate assets case.
He became CM again in 2016 following her demise. But two months later he had to resign as the party split and the then Governor appointed Palaniswami as the CMr who later proved his majority in the Assembly.
This former Leader of the House in the TN Legislative Assembly was born on January 14, 1952, in Periyakulam. He entered politics at a tender age of 18 and rose in party ranks and had served as chairman of Periyakulam municipality. He earned the trust of Jayalalithaa who entrusted him with the task of running her government in her absence.
But his political journey post Jayalalithaa was punctuated with compromises - settling down to the position of Deputy Chief Minister in 2017 in Palaniswami's Cabinet, and later announcing K Palaniswami as CM candidate in the 2021 Assembly election, to now losing the support of a majority of the party workers who back Palaniswami.
In February 2017, he had launched a "dharma yudham" revolt on the sands of Marina against V K Sasikala who expelled him from the party. In August the same year he merged his faction with Palaniswami's group and became deputy chief minister holding the finance portfolio. While Panneerselvam became coordinator of the AIADMK, Palaniswami was made the joint coordinator.
After the debacle in the 2021 Assembly elections, differences between both the leaders emerged and a defiant Palaniswami favoured unitary leadership in the party dispensing with the coordinator post while Panneerselvam maintained that dual leadership would augur well for the AIADMK.
The leadership tussle worsened between the two and in July 2022, the party's general council abolished the dual leadership and elevated Palaniswami as interim general secretary - a development that totally isolated Panneerselvam from the AIADMK. Along with the latter few of his supporters were expelled from the party.
In September last year, a division bench of the Madras High Court upheld the decisions of the June 11 AIADMK general council and set aside the single judge order. On September 12, 2022, the Supreme Court dismissed the plea of Panneerselvam challenging the order of the madras High Court to handover the keys of the party headquarters to Palaniswami.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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First Published: Feb 23 2023 | 4:19 PM IST

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