The internal power struggle within the AIADMK is spilling onto the streets as supporters of O Pannerselvam put up posters warning against the party top order making decisions in the absence of their leader.
In one of the posters, supporters of Pannerselvam from the southern district of Tirunelveli warn, “Do not make decisions, or carry out implementations in the absence of our leader.” The posters, signalling a standoffish attitude, have raised speculation as to whether the road ahead for the Panneerselvam-Palaniswami combine extends without hurdles.
The AIADMK’s senior leaders had met last week after the party’s election debacle in which it lost by a considerable margin to the DMK. Palaniswami, who was the chief ministerial candidate, had attended the meeting while Panneerselvam was conspicuously absent in the meeting.
Panneerselvam identifies himself as being marked as successor by Jayalalithaa. The poster mentions him as the “one identified by Jayalalithaa.”
In almost all of his arguments positioning himself as the true leader of the AIADMK, Panneerselvam points out the two times he had been made stand-in chief minister when Jayalalithaa was either legally on shaky ground to hold the position of the chief minister, or had to go to prison in the disproportionate assets case.
Palaniswami had maintained his anti-Sasikala stance while Panneerselvam remains ambivalent. In this scenario, Panneerselvam putting up hostile posturing against Palaniswami at a time Sasikala is biding her time to re-enter the AIADMK makes it appear as though a truly united AIADMK is a far cry for now.