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AIADMK meet turns into virtual war zone, OPS becomes target in EPS's show of strength

AIADMK meet turns into virtual war zone, OPS becomes target in EPSs show of strength
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chennai: Amid chaos, the AIADMK General Council meeting here on Thursday announced that the one and only demand of the GC members is to bring in a system of a single leadership for the party, favouring Joint Coordinator Edappadi K Palaniswami.

The Executive and General Council meet held together saw EPS emerging as the supreme leader and he was honoured with a decorated crown, a sword and sceptre by supporters. EPS's colleague and Coordinator O Panneerselvam, popularly known as OPS was apparently snubbed in the meet and rude slogans were shouted against him. The meet, which stuck to the one and only demand of making EPS the supreme party leader, turned out to be a full show of strength of the Palaniswami camp with OPS followers heavily outnumbered. Panneerselvam camp promptly declared the proceedings invalid and OPS, a three-time Chief Minister is likely to air-dash to Delhi to explore options like approaching the Election Commission to take forward his fight against EPS faction. While the EPS camp asserted that the GC would meet again on July 11 to elect Palaniswami as the party head, OPS group said that it is not possible as only Coordinator and Joint Coordinator had the powers to convene the meet and not the Presidium Chairman. The meet was as well a pointer to the region and caste based groupings within the AIADMK. Within the party, most belonging to the Vanniyakula Kshathriyas community also known as Vanniyars, dominant in northern Tamil Nadu and the Gounders, seen as movers and shakers of the western region favoured EPS. Panneerselvam's loyalists mostly belong to the southern parts of the state and to the Mukkulathor community, a Most Backward Caste like Vanniyars. OPS hails from the Mukkulathor community.

OPS speaking in favour of considering taking back into the party, V K Sasikala, confidante of late party supremo J Jayalalithaa and appearing to be 'soft' towards the DMK were among the EPS camp's grouses against him.

Elsewhere, addressing a function, DMK President and Chief Minister M K Stalin made a veiled reference to the infighting in the AIADMK and said those who wanted to decimate his party have now been wiped out. When the EC-GC meet, that rejected all the 23 proposed resolutions, consistently focused on the 'EPS for single leader' demand, OPS was prompted to leave the dais along with his supporters including R Vaithilingam. The meet, that witnessed chaotic scenes was over in less than 40 minutes after it started.

A water bottle landed pretty close to OPS when he stood near the podium and fell on his Personal Security Officer who extended his arms around the former CM to protect him. A second water bottle came close to the party coordinator when he was walking down the stairs from the dais towards the exit gate.

A palpable sense of anxiety prevailed as supporters of Paneerselvam and Palaniswami engaged in rival slogan shouting and some of them loudly argued against one another and voiced their full-throated backing to their respective leaders.

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