CHENNAI: It was a tough day for the former chief minister. O Panneerselvam has been through the rough and tumble of politics, but what awaited him at the general council meeting of the AIADMK on Thursday was probably the most bitter of his experiences in public glare. OPS and his few supporters reached the venue at 10. 30am after taking a different route to avoid Palaniswami’s convoy that inched through the swarming supporters for three hours.
And when he reached the venue, the EPS group virtually forced OPS’s driver to move the vehicle to a different location as the their leader was about to arrive. Panneerselvam had to wait in a room for more than an hour before Palaniswami showed up to a rousing reception at 11. 25am. Till then none of the OPS loyalists could sit on the dais as angry members shouted at them. Slogans against OPS reverberated throughout the 45-minute session.
None of the senior leaders greeted OPS, and reserved their bou- quets for EPS. The audience clapped and cheered when EPS entered the hall, waving the victory sign. “About 2,600 general council members have submitted letters demanding single leadership. We will bring in a resolution on July 11. EPS will become general secretary of the party that day,” said party deputy coordinator K P Munusamy.
EPS supporters, however, were disappointed that their leader could not enthroned today. The few OPS supporters who stood their ground alleged that the Palaniswami camp had unleashed money power to hijack the party. Several functionaries from Villupuram, Namakkal, Tirupur, Madurai and other districts said EPS taking over the reins of the party was inevitable.
“We need a strong leader to revitalise the party and carry forward the legacy of Puratchi Thalaivar and Amma. And that can be none other than EPS,” said G E Selvam, a cadre from Gururajapettai in Ranipet district. M Sangilipandian, a OPS supporter from Kuruvikulam village in Tenkasi, said Palaniswami could buy leaders but not cadres. The mood was sombre near OPS’s residence after the jubilation early in the morning following the court order. Panneerselvam earlier participated in a gau-pooja at his house. Ilaignar, Ilam Pengal Pasarai (AIADMK youth wing) functionary H Backialakshmi and a few elderly women were among the handful of cadres seen outside the house. “All the former ministers may have switched loyalty for benefits,” she said.