Chennai: Denying any rift in the party, AIADMK senior and State Fisheries Minister D. Jayakumar has said that only time will decide on whether the party required a single person leadership. “But for now following the diktat issued by the high command, it will be wise for the members to maintain silence,” Jayakumar told reporters said.
Party legislator Rajan Chellappa in Madurai had triggered a controversy on Saturday advocating ‘single leadership’ for the AIADMK instead of the present dual control by convener O Panneerselvam and joint convener Edappadi Palaniswami. The party functioned better under unitary leadership seen during the times of founder MGR and successor Amma (Jayalalithaa), Chellappa had said. He was backed by another party MLA, ‘Kunnam’ Ramachandran, making similar demand on Sunday and further strengthening the speculation that serious revolt is brewing in the ruling party following the rout in the recent Parliament poll.
Following this, the duo issued a statement (Sunday) appealing to party lieutenants to desist from rushing to the media with individual views and statements. There was also a call to the district secretaries and the MLAs to participate in a meeting at the Chennai headquarters on Wednesday (June 12) to discuss organisational issues. The statement received derisive criticism from some quarters saying it lacked the firmness of Amma.
Obviously under pressure from the leadership, Rajan Chellappa made a climb-down and declared that everyone in the party, including himself, “must abide by the decisions taken by the (dual) leadership”. At the same time, he also insisted he had not intended any wrong while making that unitary leadership demand.
Still, the debate and doubts refused to die down regarding possible shake-up in the leadership. Handling one such question at his media interaction at Chennai on Monday, Minister Jayakumar in his usual dramatic style dismissed the ‘internal dissent’ rumours and declared that both EPS and OPS “have been managing the party and the government quite well after Amma’s demise”.
“This (unitary leadership) is not an issue to be decided by the MLAs, Ministers or office bearers of the party. The AIADMK is like a banyan tree with its roots spread everywhere….Crores of cadres will be involved in decision-making. So, time will decide on single leadership,” Jayakumar said.
He said the ‘enemies’ of the party—reference to the Opposition DMK—were waiting “like the hungry whale and the shark” for an opportunity to split the AIADMK and bring down the government.
“Everyone in the party must realise this danger and stay united under the coordinator and joint coordinator; should discuss party affairs only internally and not in public”, said Jayakumar, adding that until such internal discussions, all the party members, including district functionaries and MLAs, should remain 'gupchup' (silent).
“Breaking the AIADMK is the opposition's pipe dream and it will never happen. Even so, we should not give scope for them to take advantage,” said Jayakumar, adding that MGR and Amma during their lifetime had pulled the chariot that was the AIADMK “and now it is our duty to carry forward their legacy, the party”.
Minister Jayakumar said although the party faced difficulties after the demise of Amma (Jayalalithaa), it overcame the hurdles and presently possesses the two-leaves symbol and the faith of 1.5 crore cadres.
He also said the call for a single charismatic leader by Chellappa was merely his opinion and it did not indicate fissures in the party. On many voices emerging in favour of a single leadership, he said such internal matters should not be discussed in public. The minister expressed confidence that the meeting of party MLAs and senior functionaries scheduled for Wednesday would go well and that the party would finalise its strategy to face the upcoming Local body polls. “We will win the local body polls and also the 2021 Assembly elections,” he said.
While addressing party members in Madurai on Monday, Chellappa said everyone including him, was duty bound to abide by the party leadership.
“Our aim is to strengthen the party and we have no ulterior motive,” he said apparently referring to his controversial call. Averring that the true followers of MGR would not go anywhere, he said he and others were prepared to do what the party says....