Chennai: Ruling AIADMK on Wednesday appointed 12 spokespersons, including the former editor of its erstwhile mouthpiece Namadhu MGR who fell out with the V. K. Sasikala family couple of months back. It announced that only the aforesaid leaders are authorised to participate in television debates and articulate views of the AIADMK in public forums.
The seal of AIADMK coordinator O. Panneerselvam was visible in the list since many of his supporters – C Ponnaiyan, J. C. D. Prabhakar, Kovai Selvaraj, K C Palanichamy, and Prof Theeran — have made the cut. The party has also brought in its leading women speakers B Valarmathi and S Gokula Indira – both ministers in the J Jayalalithaa cabinet — besides retaining Dr Vaigai Chelvan, one of the prominent faces in the AIADMK.
Eight people, including Tamil Development Minister ‘MaFoi’ K. Pandiarajan, Nirmala Periyasamy, Rajya Sabha MP S. R. Balasubramanian and R. Vaithilingam, who were spokespersons during Jayalalithaa regime have not been renominated. Sources said it was decided not to appoint ministers and MPs as spokespersons.
Appointment of Marudhu Azhaguraj, the former editor of ‘Namadhu MGR’, which served as the AIADMK mouthpiece since M. G. Ramachandran’s death to the split in the party after Jayalalithaa’s death in 2016, is significant since the Sasikala family, which currently controls the newspaper, sacked him in August for publishing an article that was highly critical of the BJP. Azhaguraj, who has an impeccable command over Tamil and was appointed as editor of Namadhu MGR by late Jayalalithaa, is an active member of the AIADMK. With several of Panneerselvam’s supporters figuring on the list, sources said the appointments were in line with the understanding reached between the two factions while working out the merger.
Former MLAs K Samarasam, A. S. Maheswari and R. M. Babu Murugavel are others who have been appointed as spokespersons of the AIADMK. Announcing their appointment, coordinator Panneerselvam and joint coordinator Edappadi K Palaniswami said they will propagate the ideals and articulate the party’s stand on several issues in television, print media and on the social media sites.
“Except the aforesaid spokespersons, none have been authorised by the AIADMK headquarters to represent the party in television debates and speak on behalf of the party to newspapers,” the duo said in a joint statement. They said among the coalition partners, Y Jawahar Ali of the Indian National Muslim League, has been authorised to appear on television debates.
Interestingly, the trio – M Thamimum Ansari, Karunaas and Thaniarasu – who have been swinging like a pendulum ever since the crisis began in AIADMK will not be able to represent AIADMK in television debates. The appointment comes more than a month after OPS and EPS issued a gag order after it was brought to their notice that those representing the AIADMK often “speak out of turn” and sometimes even contradicting the official party line.
AIADMK to have own newspaper, channel
AIADMK was one of the few parties that boasted of a dedicated channel – JJ TV in the beginning and Jaya TV later – tom-tomming its “achievements” and serving as its propaganda and publicity arm. After the upheaval in the ruling party following the demise of its charismatic leader J. Jayalalithaa, the AIADMK is now bereft of any communication tool that takes its message to the cadre and people.
On Wednesday, when the AIADMK top brass – coordinator O. Panneerselvam and joint coordinator Edappadi K. Palaniswami met in Chennai for the first time in the New Year, their agenda was to launch a dedicated channel for the party and a newspaper that would serve as its mouthpiece.
Sources said Palaniswami told the MLAs meeting that efforts are being taken to launch a daily and a television channel to take the “good work of the Amma Government” to the people.
The move comes after Namadhu MGR – launched by J Jayalalithaa after her mentor M. G. Ramachandran’s death in 1987 eventually became the AIADMK’s mouthpiece and Jaya TV – went under the control of the Sasikala family that is now functioning as a separate faction. The channel is blacking out news relating to the AIADMK Government since August 2017 and Namadhu MGR does not even carry statements by the Chief Minister and his deputy.
Jaya TV was almost an extension of the AIADMK that carried news only related to Jayalalithaa and the party since its inception in 1999. When Jayalalithaa was the Chief Minister, she occasionally went live on Jaya TV to make announcements relating to her government, giving it a semi-official status.