Madurai: About three weeks after the Lok Sabha election results saw the AIADMK-BJP alliance win only one out of 38 seats it contested in the State, the party’s lawmaker from Madurai North Assembly constituency V. V. Rajan Chellappa, raised a banner of revolt against the twofold leadership in the party and strongly pitched for a single “charismatic” leader to steer the party to victory.
He said the present arrangement of twofold power centres – coordinator (Deputy Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam) and joint coordinator (Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami) impeded quick decisions. Maintaining that he felt compelled to address a press conference since a General Council meeting of the party had not been convened, the MLA told reporters here on Saturday that a “single, charismatic and all-powerful” leadership is needed in the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam to lead the party towards victory in the ensuing local body elections and the next election to the State Assembly.
Claiming that other MLAs he was in touch with were also of the same opinion, Rajan Chellappa, a former Mayor, said that the party needed to unite under one strong leader. “This party needs to be conducted with discipline by one leader. We need a talented and selfless person, whoever it maybe, old or new. It should be someone certified by Amma. Both of them have been certified by Amma. We can see who is better between them or we can look for someone more certified. There is nothing wrong in that,” he said.
Without stating who this qualified leader would be, the MLA said that there was nothing wrong in someone who can control the party taking up the reins of the Chief Minister as well. The post of Leader of the House leader can also be split, he suggested.
Chellappa is the first party senior to openly bat for naming a single leader to the top party post of general secretary as was the practice during the era of late leaders M. G. Ramachandran and J. Jayalalithaa.
Following the death of Jayalalithaa in December 2016, the party split and in August 2017, the two factions merged after ousting V.K. Sasikala and T.T.V. Dhinakaran. While Mr. Palaniswami remained Chief Minister and was made joint coordinator of the AIADMK, Mr. Panneerselvam who took over as party coordinator agreed to be the Deputy Chief Minister. Mr. Panneerselvam is also the Leader of the House in the TN Assembly.
Lack of a charismatic leadership following the demise of Jayalalithaa was also among the reasons for the poor performance in the April Lok Sabha polls, he said and added that other MLAs too felt that the power should be in the hands of one leader. The proposal would be put forth in the General Council meeting, he added.
Rajan Chellappa accused the nine victorious MLAs of not visiting Jayalalithaa’s memorial on Chennai’s Marina beach to pay their respects. “Till date, only our Theni MP (P. Raveendranath Kumar who is son of Mr. Panneerselvam) has gone to Amma’s memorial and given thanks. Our nine MLAs who possess the power to save the government have not gone to Amma’s memorial and dedicated the victory. Is that their fault or that of the party leadership? Have they not even felt that they need to go to Amma’s memorial? Or who is preventing them? This is a massive victory capable of saving a government and ensuring its continuance. What is the reason for this?” he slammed.
Asked if there was no discipline in the party due to two people being at the helm, Chellappa claimed, “we have found that the two of them are unable to take appropriate decisions. They cannot take immediate decisions.” “Whether it is the Chief Minister or Deputy Chief Minister they should be in a position to take decisions,” he said and stressed that only a single leadership would be able to deliver.
Though the factions led by Palaniswami and Panneerselvam merged those belonging to their groups have not fully integrated themselves with the party, he added.