Amid facing fiasco in the recent elections with an incessant leadership crisis, ADMK has done an overhaul in the party's bye-laws that aims to close the door for any menace to the current leadership including the comeback of the expelled General Secretary VK Sasikala. The top leaders Edappadi Palaniswami (EPS) and O Panneerselvam (OPS) have astutely made the changes to the party's laws to retain their reign, though they still fight for winning the complete command behind the screen.
The drive from EPS and OPS in battling the threats to their leadership was apparent at the party's Executive Committee meeting that was held on Wednesday - December 1 in Chennai. The meeting had drawn major attention as the leadership crisis has been escalating in the party and it was held hours after both the leaders had expelled veteran leader Anwhar Raajhaa from the party for harming its reputation and dissenting the leadership.
The meeting had begun at 10 am and was attended by the senior leaders and district secretaries. The current leaders had amended the party's bye-laws to strengthen the norms to retain the leadership of the party through their current positions. Until the reign of Jayalalithaa, ADMK was a fortress that she was a kingpin in the party, that had no stable second-line leadership. This was a larger factor that drifted the ADMK after her demise and there were two factions, each headed by VK Sasikala and Panneerselvam.
After VK Sasikala went for incarceration in 2017, Edappadi Palaniswami had come out as a surprise to lead the party and the state. Later during the same year, EPS and OPS have agreed to merge their factions by ousting VK Sasikala and her clan from the party. She was removed as the General Secretary and the party had created two new posts - Coordinator and Joint Coordinator to run the party. The amendment in 2017 had given all the powers vested with the general secretary to these new posts and removed the post of General Secretary.
While OPS was made the Coordinator, EPS had settled for Joint Coordinator and as the ADMK is not familiar with the dual leadership, the tussle between the two leaders continue backstage for the last four years. During this tenure of tussle, the ADMK had faced severe fiascos with the defeat in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, 2021 assembly polls, and 2021 rural local body polls. As they find no way to have a single leadership, they have eventually ended up with the plan of running the party together and showcasing to the cadres and functionaries that they are their leaders and faces of the party.
During the meeting, the party had made three amendments including the law of electing the top leadership. The General Secretary post is apex in ADMK and the party's founder MG Ramachandran (MGR) was the first General Secretary of ADMK. Till 1976, the General Secretary was elected by the members of the general body. However, after that, MGR has made a change and announced that the General Secretary will be elected by primary members. The status quo was maintained in the party till the death of Jayalalithaa in 2016.
After her demise, VK Sasikala was elected as the temporary General Secretary by the members of the general body, for the first time in four decades. However, after EPS and OPS merged their factions in 2017, they had brought a huge change in electing the top leadership. After removing the post of General Secretary from the law, they had created two new posts - Coordinator and Joint Coordinator and they amended the laws that these two posts can be elected by the general body members, not by the primary members.
After four years, EPS and OPS had now alerted this law and brought back MGR's model. On Wednesday, the ADMK has amended that the top two posts will be elected by primary members by a single vote. According to reports, while the posts are two, there would be only one vote for each member as the two positions have been constituted as the party's top leadership. Our sources say that through this crucial amendment, the current leaders had conveyed that they are the fullest leaders of the party and there is no place for VK Sasikala.
Sasikala has been making efforts to make a political comeback and to take back the ADMK by becoming its General Secretary. However, as the post remains history and the amendment has been passed, it's less likely that she would have her door open. The ADMK has been reiterating that VK Sasikala is not a member of the party and on Wednesday, senior leader D Jayakumar has said that only those who have been primary members for over five years or more are eligible to vote to elect the party's leadership.
The ADMK leaders had closed the doors for VK Sasikala when there have been voices within the party advocating for her induction. The reports say that the changes would drive the party into a single and united leadership and the amendment has been made with the view of blocking Sasikala's entry, addressing the intra-party tussle, and facing the upcoming urban local body polls. While EPS had taken efforts to become the General Secretary, the ongoing issues within the party had pushed him to share the leadership with OPS, instead of losing completely to Sasikala.
Through the amendment, EPS and OPS had initiated their plan of keeping the party under their control and fixing the differences and defusing tensions and tussles between the leaders. During the meeting, the ADMK leadership had also appointed Tamil Magan Hussain as the Chairman of the party's presidium, hours after expelling senior leader Anhwar Raajaa from the same community. According to the latest reports, the ADMK has on Thursday- December 2 announced that the elections for the post of Coordinator and Joint Coordinator will be held on December 7.
Currently, EPS and OPS are happy for retaining their leadership and for closing doors for Sasikala but it won't be for long as more challenges approach them including the urban local body polls and expedition of legal cases against senior leaders. VK Sasikala won't go back from her stand of a political comeback as she had assured her supporters in the ADMK that she will come to politics. Our sources say that ahead of the urban local body polls, VK Sasikala would announce her political plan that may irk the current ADMK leaders.