The leadership chaos and crisis in ADMK has now taken a fresh and tumult turn where the top rivals in the party - Edappadi Palaniswami (EPS) and O Panneerselvam (OPS) have sparked a tussle over taking the command of the party. When EPS is moving closer to get elected as the party's general secretary, which is the highest post, OPS has once again pulled judiciary to the table to curb the elevation of EPS.
Ahead of the recently-held Erode East bypoll, the Supreme Court gave a huge relief to EPS by certifying the party's 2022 general council meeting, in which EPS was elected as the interim general secretary, and the Election Commission has also acknowledged the leadership of the EPS and allotted the party's 'Two Leaves' symbol to him. Though ADMK had a drastic debacle in the bypoll, it opened gates for EPS to take the control of the party.
The events within the party suggested that EPS is going to get elected as ADMK's general secretary, the post that both EPS and OPS agreed to reserve it for demised supremo Jayalalithaa when they joined hand and taken the roles of joint coordinator and coordinator respectively in 2017. Now, as the OPS faction is getting eroded both politically and legally, EPS moved to change the status quo by capturing the supreme control of the party.
When the party's general council meeting in 2022 appointed EPS as ADMK's interim general secretary, it was announced that the election for the general secretary will be held in four months. However, in the wake of legal battle between the rivals, the general secretary election had been deferred and to not let the party go without a single leadership for the 2024 Lok Sabha polls, EPS rolled out a plan to get elected to the helm. As the Election Commission has recognized him, EPS is aiming to sideline his rivals and bring the whole party under his thumb.
At a high time when the alliance with the BJP is going in a skewed direction, ADMK had on Friday - March 17 announced that the election for the general secretary will be held on March 26 and the filing of nomination will begin on Saturday. As there is no contender for Edappadi Palaniswami in his faction, it is most likely that he would get elected as ADMK's general secretary unopposed.
On Saturday, EPS had filed his nominations for the general secretary election and he was the only one to file the nomination so far. The party has also announced that counting centres in 75 district units in the state and ten centres in other states, including Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, New Delhi, and Puducherry will be installed. The party leaders had also appealed to the party functionaries and cadres to extend their cooperation for the election.
According to the party, the candidates can file nominations on March 18 and on March 19 till 3 pm. Scrutiny of nominations will take place on March 20 and the candidates can withdraw their nominations until 3 pm on March 21. The election, if warranted would take place on March 26 and the votes will be counted on March 27. As election is just a week away and Palaniswami's prospect of getting elected as the general secretary appears to be bright, his rival OPS has knocked judiciary to smack the elevation of EPS.
When EPS was filing his nomination on Saturday, OPS held a press conference in Chennai during which he called the election as a sham and he has appealed to the Madras High Court against the election. As the filing for the nomination ends on Sunday, OPS has sought an urgent hearing on his petition and it has been reported that his plea will be heard on Sunday morning. As both the rivals are escalating the tussle, the ardent cadres of the party are wailing over ADMK's unprecedented divide and crisis.