A day ahead of the meeting of top functionaries of the AIADMK, where the groundwork for ousting jailed leader V.K. Sasikala could be laid, her nephew T.T.V. Dhinakaran “stripped” Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami of the party district secretary’s post.
In a press release, Mr. Dhinakaran, the party’s sidelined deputy general secretary, announced that Mr. Palaniswami would cease to function as the party’s Salem Rural District unit secretary and appointed former MLA S.K. Selvam in his place. He claimed that the decision had the “approval” of Sasikala.
Mr. Palaniswami’s supporters, however, said Mr. Dhinakaran had no locus standi to expel or appoint any office-bearer.
Mr. Palaniswami has called for a meeting of top leaders on Monday to decide on convening the party general council in September to formally move a resolution against Sasikala’s appointment as interim general secretary.
On Sunday, soon after news of Mr. Palaniswami’s “removal” as district secretary spread, his supporters burnt Mr. Dhinakaran’s effigy in Salem and a few other places.
Interestingly in 2011, Mr. Palaniswami had replaced Mr. Selvam as Salem Rural District secretary.
Prior to the 2011 Assembly elections, the Salem East and Salem West district units of the party were merged and Mr. Palaniswami was made the secretary of the unified Salem Rural District Unit.
“Mr. Palaniswami was an unwavering loyalist of late Jayalalithaa, due to which he became a member of the high profile Cabinet group which had close proximity to her during the last regime. Again, Jayalalithaa rewarded him by giving the high profile PWD portfolio in addition to the State Highways and Minor Ports after the 2016 elections,” said his supporter, questioning how he could be removed by Mr. Dhinakaran.
G. Venkatachalam, MLA, and secretary of the Salem urban district unit of the party, came down heavily against Mr. Dhinakaran and said he was making “childish moves” that will immensely harm the party. “Mr. Dhinakaran had no power to remove us from the party posts,” he added.
A. B. Sakthivel, MLA representing Salem South constituency, said Mr. Dhinakaran’s announcement had no political sanctity. “The entire rank and file of the party is opposed to Sasikala and has not endorsed her as the general secretary of the party. The entire party is united in ousting Sasikala from it,” he said.
“When we do not accept her as general secretary, where is the question of accepting Mr. Dhinakaran as deputy general secretary,” he asked.
The supporters of Mr. Palaniswami condemned his removal from the party post and burnt the effigy of Mr. Dhinakaran at Five Roads junction, Anna statue junction, Ammapettai, Thadagapatti, Hasthampatti and Attayampatti in the city. The Chief Minister’s supporters burnt the effigy in Attur, Sankagiri, Omalur, and Sarkarkollappati too.
Tamilazhagan, a driver by profession, climbed a mobile phone tower near the bus stand in Mecheri town and raised slogans against Mr. Dhinakaran. The police pacified him.