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Amid the ongoing COVID-19 crisis in Tamil Nadu, there has been a silent ‘Statement war’ happening in the state. A political tussle between the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) Coordinator, O Paneerselvam, and Joint Coordinator Edappadi Palanisamy that has been on for years has now taken a new turn.

The duo has been issuing individual statements for the past few weeks and a silent conflict between EPS and OPS started from the drift that happened in 2017.

Meanwhile, the ‘Statement war’ began when OPS issued an individual statement during the start of May when Amma canteen at JJ Nagar in Chennai was vandalised by DMK men. ‘Attack on Amma canteen is condemnable. Those involved in the crime should be punished immediately’, his statement read.

On May 5, OPS and EPS issued a joint statement condemning the vandalism on the Amma canteen. Later, when MK Stalin took oath as Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu and formed the Government, there came a talk in the state that who will be the next Opposition leader.

The party had a couple of high-end meetings having a long discussion about who will be the leader of the Opposition. After days-long arguments, EPS was selected as the leader of Opposition by the party, which made OPS take a step back.

Soon after becoming the leader of Opposition, EPS wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi urging oxygen beds for Tamil Nadu hospitals and to ensure more supply of Oxygen, COVID Vaccine to the state and issues regarding TN fishermen.

OPS for his part, also issued his statement to CM Stalin to seek immediate steps to control Mucormycosis, the black fungal infection, in the state and ensure adequate COVID-19 vaccines.

On May 25, Palanisamy in his individual statement urged the state government to increase oxygen beds in hospitals and calculate ways to bring down COVID deaths in the state.

When minister Nilofer Kafeel resigned from the party, OPS and EPS on May 21 issued a joint statement, which said he has been removed from the party for acting against party’s principles.

News18 reached out to senior journalist SP Lakshmanan regarding the matter

Q: Will individual statements from OPS and EPS a consent of single-leadership battle in the party again?

Initially, OPS was reluctant to announce EPS as Chief Ministerial Candidate. He was actually pressurised to announce so. That was the first back-step for OPS.

Secondly, during the Tamil Nadu assembly election constituency allotment, there were differences in opinion between EPS and OPS. After the poll results, OPS sought to be the leader of the Opposition, at least, but EPS was not willing to give up. Later, after taking oath as the leader of Opposition, EPS stood to be the first to issue an individual statement urging the government to increase the number of Remdesivir in the state. Beyond everything, issuing an individual statement is in violation of party norms.

Still, OPS remains in his powerful position as Coordinator of the party. So OPS, on his part started issuing individual statements for self-protection. Both EPS and OPS actions are against the party norms according to their deal which is not a good sign for their party. If AIADMK is again marching towards single-leadership chaos, EPS looks to emerge as the single leader of the party. Whereas OPS, owing to a lack of supporters and power, seeks to join hands with Sasikala and sketches to bring Sasikala legally into the party.

Q: Is O Paneerselvam losing power?

The struggle between OPS and EPS to hold their leadership powers has forced OPS to move towards Sasikala. Finally, a single-leadership battle will between EPS, and OPS ‘in support of’ Sasikala.

Q: Intra-Party Conflict in AIADMK?

There’s surely an intra-party conflict prevailing in AIADMK that went to an extent of both (OPS and EPS) presumably wanting to defeat one another.

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