Chennai: In a first, AIADMK leaders Edappadi Palaniswami and O Panneerselvam will together meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Delhi on Monday, in which party leaders say they would discuss recent developments in Tamil Nadu after the DMK defeated the NDA alliance and formed the government in May.
The meeting also comes in the backdrop of the DMK initiating raids against former AIADMK minister for transport, MR Vijayabhaskar, last week. Officials from the directorate of vigilance and anti-corruption (DVAC) raided 26 places linked to him on July 22, seized ₹25,56,000 in cash and incriminating documents, and filed a case including charges of disproportionate assets. The AIADMK had called it a political vendetta.
One of the DMK’s election promises is to establish a special court to prosecute top AIADMK ministers, including Palaniswami and Panneerselvam, on charges of corruption. In retaliation, the AIADMK plans to protest across Tamil Nadu on July 28 against the DMK not fulfilling its election promises, such as abolishing NEET and cutting fuel prices.
“The meeting has been in discussion for about the past 10 days and we received an appointment now,” said a senior AIADMK leader not wishing to be identified. “They are likely to speak about the raids and the political situation since local body elections are also coming up.”
The meeting will be keenly watched as the AIADMK was criticised as being puppeted by the BJP’s central leadership when Panneerselvam and Palaniswami occupied the chief minister’s chair, analysts say. Panneerselvam had confirmed much of this speculation when in 2018 he said that he patched up with Palaniswami on Modi’s advice. While their dual leadership continues in the party and as they stay united amidst the threat of expelled leader VK Sasikala, the tensions between the two have still not completely resolved, analysts say.
Sasikala has been making the AIADMK uncomfortable with her attempts to take over the party reins. After her phone diplomacy, last week Sasikala went on a first political outing to a hospital to visit AIADMK’s presidium chairman E Madhusudhanan who was in the ICU. Palaniswami, who was also in the hospital at the same time, had left immediately when he knew of her coming. Madhusudhanan had rebelled against Sasikala and sided with Panneerselvam back in 2017 when the party was divided following J Jayalalithaa’s death in office in 2016. Madhusudhanan was also the petitioner who succeeded in getting the Election Commission to allot the AIADMK party name and two-leaves symbol to the Palaniswami-Panneerselvam camp.
Panneerselvam who left for Delhi on Sunday morning is said to be with his family as his son and member of parliament OP Ravindranath has moved to the government-provided residence in the capital. Palaniswami has followed him and the meeting is scheduled for 11am.
“It’s a courtesy call,” said AIADMK’s spokesperson C Vaigaichelvan. “We haven’t received any information on the agenda as yet, but this is the first time that the two leaders are meeting together in Delhi.”
Recently the AIADMK had to quickly douse a problem with the BJP when former law minister CV Shunmugam blamed the national party for their poll debacle by saying that they lost minority votes. The state BJP leaders immediately retorted that the AIADMK was to blame. The AIADMK then sought to clarify that their alliance with the BJP will continue.