The All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) had named party co-coordinator and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami as its chief ministerial candidate for the 2021 Assembly polls in the state, Deputy CM O Panneerselvam announced on Wednesday. The party, which has notably been divided into factions led by the CM and deputy CM, also appointed an 11-member steering committee, with six members from the Palaniswami camp and five from the Panneerselvam camp.
The announcement, coming after a week-long infighting between the two factions, put an end to speculations around the AIADMK’s chief ministerial candidate. According to sources, Panneerselvam had been keen that his demand for setting up of an 11-member steering committee be fulfilled before the party announced its CM candidate.
Palaniswami has been the chief minister of Tamil Nadu since February 2017, when Panneerselvam, who had taken over the post after the demise of J Jayalalithaa, resigned. In 2017, when the two factions merged, the formation of a steering committee was one of the key demands put forth by the Panneerselvam camp. The 11-member committee announced on Wednesday will look at "collective leadership".
The 11-members of steering committee are Dindigul Sreenivasan, Thangamani, SP Velumani, D Jayakumar, and C V Shanmugam Kamaraj from Palaniswami camp. And J C D Prabhakar, Manoj Pandian, PA Mohan, Gopalakrishnan and Manickam from the Panneerselvam camp.
Sources said that the two factions held several rounds of talks with key ministers like P Thangamani, SP Velumani, D Jayakumar, and deputy coordinators KP Munusamy and R Vaithilingam before deciding on the composition of the committee.
The latest tussle between the factions had started on August 10, with Cooperation Minister Sellur K Raju saying that the newly elected legislators should choose the chief minister after the Assembly elections in 2021. Posters projecting Panneerselvam as the chief ministerial candidate had led to talk about another tiff. A fight between the factions had again come out in the open on September 28, with Panneerselvam insisting on the setting up of a steering committee, and supporters of Palaniswami pushing for the announcement of the CM nominee. Munuswamy had then announced that the CM candidate would be named on October 7, 2020.
The pact reached on Wednesday is crucial ahead of the return of V K Sasikala, the ousted AIADMK chief who had been jailed for corruption. She is likely to be released from jail in January, though reports suggest that could be even earlier.