‘CM for OPS’ posters in Theni trigger discomfort in ruling AIADMK

A group of over 10 Ministers including D. Jayakumar, S.P. Velumani, P. Thangamani and C.Ve. Shanmugam on Saturday held an unscheduled meeting with Deputy Chief Minster and the AIADMKs coordinator, O. Panneerselvam for over an hour at the latters residence on Greenways Road, Chennai.
The days meeting assumes importance in the light of the ongoing debate within the party over who should be the Chief Ministerial candidate in the upcoming Assembly elections, slated for April-May next year. A poster, projecting Mr. Panneerselvam as the next Chief Minister, was reported to have been put up by people of Kenjampatti village of the Bodinayackanur panchayat union of Theni district, which is the home district of the Deputy Chief Minister. According to Tamil TV channels, the poster has since been removed.
After attending the Independence Day parade event at Fort St George, where Chief Minister and the partys co-coordinator Edappadi K. Palaniswami hoisted the national flag, the Ministers commenced their meeting with Mr. Panneerselvam at about 11.45 am. Among other Ministers were School Education Minister K.A. Sengottaiyan and Forest Minister Dindigul C. Sreenivasan. It was an unscheduled meeting, according to a source in the party. Earlier, they had met at Fort. St. George.
The meeting was over around 1 p.m. and the Ministers were said to have left for the residence of the Chief Minister, located nearby.
According to another source, the delay on the part of the AIADMK in sending its choice for a berth in the Union Ministry is said to be one of the reasons behind the meeting. The present state of ties between the AIADMK and the BJP is also cited as a reason behind the development. The two parties are engaged in a virtual spar over which party should lead the alliance for the Assembly polls.
On Monday, Cooperation Minister and Madurai city district secretary Sellur K. Raju went on record, saying that the issue of the next Chief Minister would be resolved at a meeting of the AIADMK legislature party [which would meet after the polls].
The following day, Dairy Development Minister K.T. Rajenthra Bhalaji, also in-charge of the partys Virudhunagar district unit, in a tweet, made it clear that Mr. Palaniswami was the Chief Ministerial candidate. Both these Ministers are said to have stayed away from Saturdays meeting at the residence of Mr. Panneerselvam.
On Wednesday, senior leaders and Ministers had met at the AIADMK party office, after which Deputy Coordinator K.P. Munusamy said the party leadership would formally announce the CM candidate at the appropriate time.
Though the general message after the Wednesday meeting was that the party leaders should refrain from discussing the matter publicly, some Ministers continued to express their views.