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Internal Squabbles and BJP's Clutches: Twin Problem Haunts AIADMK Ahead of TN Assembly Elections

Neelambaran A |
The latest controversy broke out after posters by party functionaries hailed OPS as the future CM followed by a rebuttal from the EPS followers.
CM Edappadi K Palaniswami and O Panneerselvam

Image Courtesy: Hindu Business Line

The internal squabbles within the ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK), though silenced for now, has created trouble for the party ahead of the elections in Tamil Nadu. From projecting the next chief ministerial candidate to mooting the idea of the second capital for the state, the ministers and cadres have played their part in exposing the infighting.

The two factions of the party, led by the CM Edappadi K Palaniswami (EPS) and his deputy O Panneerselvam (OPS) have been at loggerheads ever since the latter returned to the party fold after a brief revolt. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), alliance partner of AIADMK, seems to be enjoying the infighting, with a hope of gaining political mileage in the state at the expense of the dravidian party.

With the elections scheduled in less than ten months from now, the opposition parties led by the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) too have shifted gears to the election mood.


The latest controversy broke out after posters by party functionaries hailed OPS as the future CM followed by a rebuttal from the EPS followers. This poster war led to an explosion of the long brimming infighting. The two factions have been fighting for supremacy in the party and the government, even though the duo managed to keep the flock together, in the four years of tenure since the late CM J Jayalalitha’s demise. A detailed statement insisting that the party leadership will finalise the CM candidate has silenced the issue for now.

Also read: TN: Increasing COVID-19 Deaths Raise Concern, CM Demands Financial Aid for Containment Work

Following the poster war, ministers in the cabinet suggested the need for a second capital for the state. The names of Madurai and Trichy were even proposed by the ministers belonging to these districts much to the embarrassment of the government. The CM later clarified that the ministers have spoken their opinion and the government has not considered a second capital for the state, putting an end to the proposal.


Even though the status-quo is ensured for now, the feud continues to simmer within the party. The party and government yielding to the pressure of the BJP’s policies had damaged the prospects for AIADMK in the 2019 general elections. The AIADMK was cornered by the Opposition, citing various issues including the introduction of National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET). The principal opposition DMK has accused the AIADMK of failing in all fronts and wasting the crucial time to settle their internal squabbles.

A Saravanan, DMK spokesperson said, “The AIADMK is imploding now. The government has failed on all fronts and to hide the failures they are creating issues to divert the attention of the people. When the ministers are fighting in the name of a second capital, who will take care of the people affected by the pandemic?”

Rebutting the claim, AIADMK spokesperson Jawahar Ali said, “The minor misunderstandings have been settled down. The party is supreme and will face the elections as an united force and not in the name of individuals. This has been made clear by the coordinator of the party OPS himself.”


The recent days have also witnessed the weakening of the ties between BJP and the AIADMK. The denial of permission to the installation and large procession of Ganesh idols for Ganesh Chaturthi has made matters worse. The BJP and Hindu Munnani leaders met the CM to withdraw the ban, but the government stood firm. The BJP threatened to defy the ban, but the party failed to mobilise its force for doing so.

Distraught by the ban, the BJP leaders drew comparison among the AIADMK and DMK as being anti-Hindu. The ban led to an ugly war of words between the leaders of the parties on social media platform, Twitter. The BJP national president J P Nadda, while addressing a meeting of secretariat members cricitised the State of protecting people working against national interest.

V P Duraisamy, former DMK leader and presently the state vice president of BJP said that his party will lead an alliance against the DMK in the upcoming Assembly elections. “The BJP is trying to get a foothold in the state with the support of communal politics. They will not succeed in doing so,” added Jawahar Ali.

Also read: What Is Stopping BJP from Appointing President for Tamil Nadu Unit?

Though the above developments signal a rift in the relationship, both the parties need the support of each other in the upcoming elections. Given the history of rift between EPS and OPS, and a BJP leader tweeting on the release of Sasikala, the AIADMK may be forced to align with the BJP or could end up in another split.


The discontent within the two factions were simmering for long, but coexisted owing to the long duration of four years left in power. The two groups were trying to take upper hand in both the party and the government leading to the present controversy. The OPS faction is reported to have the blessings of the Rashtriya Swayamseval Sangh, given his close proximity with the leaders of the organisation.

After OPS returned to the party fold, with the reported influence of the Prime Minister himself and the RSS ideologue S Gurumurthy, he was made the coordinator of the party and deputy CM.

OPS was an instant replacement for the late J Jayalalitha as the CM, on three different occasions, a reward for his loyalty to the late CM. EPS, once considered a low profile leader was sworn in with the blessings of V K Sasikala, after her failed attempts to stake claim to form the government. OPS had claimed that he was forced to quit.

The case of disqualification of OPS and his supporters is still pending, while 18 members of the Assembly owing allegiance to  TTV Dhinakaran led Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam were promptly disqualified

“The BJP knows whatever is happening within the AIADMK. The state government would not have survived without the blessings of the union government. We cannot comment on what could transform in the next few months,” concluded Saravanan.

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