What is the origin of this dispute? Why are the EPS and OPS factions of the AIADMK in conflict?
We know that when the AIADMK was governing Tamil Nadu, EPS and OPS, that is Edappadi K Palaniswami and O Panneerselvam, had divided power between them. Now that the party is not in power, they can no longer share power by being chief minister and deputy chief minister, and there is no strong personality like J Jayalalithaa to hold the fort together, the two most powerful leaders of the party have turned mutual rivals.
When did the dual leadership structure start in TN?
We need to go back in history a bit to get the answer. J Jayalalithaa had twice handpicked OPS to be the ad hoc chief minister when she had to step down following her conviction in some cases of corruption. Though OPS was elevated for the third time just before she died, Jayalalithaa's aide VK Sasikala, who briefly took over the party, replaced him with EPS after he rebelled against her.
She announced EPS as chief minister before she went to jail in the disproportionate assets case in which Jayalalithaa was the prime accused.
However, in a twist, both leaders patched up and expelled Sasikala when she was in jail. OPS became the number one in the party and EPS his deputy. But in the Tamil Nadu government, OPS became Chief Minister EPS' deputy.
That is the history of the duality of power in the AIADMK.
What is the dispute about?
Of course, they cannot officially say what Sirf News said above. So, the stronger faction in the AIADMK, the EPS faction, accused OPS of siding with the DMK government and working towards weakening the AIADMK. To mention the names, EPS and some senior party leaders including KP Munusamy made this accusation.
Now, this faction held a meeting of the AIADMK General Council and scrapped the posts of coordinator and joint coordinator,
which were held by O Panneerselvam and Palaniswami respectively, saying that these posts were making it difficult to make decisions and tackle discontentment in the party's rank and file.
The EPS faction offered the excuse that under the dual leadership, the AIADMK had suffered three successive poll defeats.
OPS, in his counter, said he was elected as the coordinator by 1.5 crore party workers and that neither EPS nor another leader had the right to expel him.
O Panneerselvam aka OPS filed a plea in Madras HC. What did it say?
As said before, OPS holds that EPS does not have the mandate to remove him. So, OPS will have to cite relevant sections of the AIADMK constitution that say the interim general secretary of the party cannot scrap his post.
OPS has pleaded with the court to also put a stay on the meeting called by the faction led by Edappady K Palaniswami. Meanwhile, the general council of the AIADMK with over 2,500 members has empowered EPS to lead the party. OPS wants this development to be reversed too.
What was the purpose of this meeting?
In the meeting, the party formally resolved to hold organisational polls in 4 months to elect the party's general secretary. It amended several bylaws, which include new rules to fight for the top party position.
One of the new rules says that only a person with 10-year primary membership of the party can contest the polls. This is clearly a bid to keep OPS out, as many of his followers joined the party in the recent past when the AIADMK was ruling Tamil Nadu.
What is the contention of OPS?
The OPS camp has contended before the court that only the coordinator and the joint coordinator can convene the meeting as per the party's constitution. And this meeting called by the newly-appointed chairman of the so-called praesidium is technically illegal.
And what was EPS' argument?
His faction argues that dual leadership is no longer in force. He says the previous meeting held on 23 June did not ratify the election of both leaders and, hence, one power centre, which is the praesidium chairman, convening the meeting and the other power centre, which comprises office-bearers sending invitations, is legal.
Last week, the Supreme Court permitted team EPS to convene the meeting in accordance with the law.