CHENNAI: On the cards is a divorce, but the hectic preparations across the State resemble that of a wedding. Ahead of a crucial and contentious meeting of the general council, leaders of the ruling faction of AIADMK are leaving no stone unturned to ensure that the invitations reach all council members and they attend the meeting without fail on September 12 to oust interim general secretary V K Sasikala.
However, to reach there, they would first have to cross the legal tangle after those loyal to Sasikala, now led by her nephew and deputy T T V Dhinakaran, move the Madras High Court seeking a stay of the council meet alleging violation of party bylaws. The court is set to hear the petition on September 11, a day ahead of the scheduled meeting.
“Following the demise of late general secretary J Jayalalithaa on December 5, 2016, as per Rule 20 (2), V K Sasikala was appointed as general secretary on December 29, until a new general secretary was elected by the primary members of the party. However, a situation has occurred due to which she could not function as the general secretary. Hence, the office-bearers appointed have been together managing the party affairs as per the Rule 20(5),” the invitation said.
“Now, the general council meeting is being convened following a request from one-fifth of the members as per Rule 19 (vii). As per the bylaws, the council should be convened once a year. Since the meeting for the year 2016 is yet to be convened, the council will meet on September 12,” it added. The invitation was sent through courier to all concerned in the letterhead of AIADMK (Amma, Puratchi Thalivi Amma).
Talking to Express, P Vetrivel, MLA, who had filed the petition, said only the general secretary had the powers to convene the council meeting, and pointed out that the invitation did not specify the agenda of the meeting. The invitation is indeed ambiguous about the purpose of the meeting, stating: “To take a decision considering the present situation prevailing in the party.”
Though it did not say categorically that the agenda was to discuss Sasikala’s future – and thus that of her nephew whom she appointed deputy in her absence – senior leader R Vaithilingam had announced during the day of the merger of the factions led by Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami and deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam that the general council would be convened to remove Sasikala from the post. To counter the legal threat, sources said the Palaniswami faction would either move a caveat petition or field senior counsel when the HC hears the petition on Monday so that the general council could go ahead as planned.
Among those who will not be part of the meeting are MLAs loyal to Dhinakaran, who have shifted base to Karnataka – reportedly at a resort in Coorg. Rattled by S T K Jakkaiyan MLA shifting camp to the ruling faction, Dhinakaran removed him and former ministers A K Selvaraj and Thoppu N D Venkatachalam, and senior functionaries including P M Narasimhan and Varahur A Arunachalam from their posts.