Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami’s faction of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazagham on Tuesday expelled VK Sasikala as the party’s interim general secretary. While reading out the AIADMK resolution at the General Council meeting, minister RB Udaykumar said the post of the party chief now “stands forfeited”, and that former Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa will be considered the “eternal general secretary”.

An 11-member committee will now hold the powers of the general secretary. It will be headed by Deputy Chief Minister O Pannerselvam.

Palaniswami convened the General Council meeting on Tuesday amid a controversy surrounding its legality. Supporters of Sasikala’s nephew TTV Dinakaran had criticised the chief minister’s decision to hold the meeting without the ousted leader and his camp of the AIADMK.

The AIADMK also ratified its earlier resolution to remove Dinakaran from the post of deputy general secretary. “Announcements made by TTV Dinakaran are not binding on the party,” Udaykumar said.

The minister further said that the AIADMK will be unified under the two leaves symbol, referring to the Pannerselvam faction that has merged with Palaniswami’s camp. He added that all office-bearers appointed by Jayalalithaa will continue to work in their posts.

Dinakaran reacts

Speaking from Madurai, the ousted AIADMK leader said it was now time “for this government to go”. Dinakaran also challenged the Palaniswami government to a fresh round of elections. “If elections are held, it will be a fight between us and the DMK,” he said. “Palaniswami and Panneerselvam will be irrelevant. The General Council meeting held today is illegal.”

Dinakaran further said that most ministers in the Tamil Nadu government fear that they will lose the elections. “That is why they are accusing us of conniving with the DMK,” he added. “Now, I will ensure that this government is thrown out of power.”

He also challenged the Palaniswami-Panneerselvam front to contest an election against his side. “You claim to have the support of party workers,” he said. “So if you have the guts, let us face fresh elections.”

Petition opposing the General Council meeting

The Madras High Court on Monday dismissed a petition filed by a Dinakaran supporter against the meeting. MLA S Vetrivel wanted the court to stop the rival camp from convening the General Council meeting, claiming that Palaniswami did not have the authority to call for the meet as he was neither the general secretary, nor the deputy general secretary of the AIADMK, The Hindu reported.

Earlier on Monday, Dinakaran had warned Palaniswami against violating a stay order issued by a Bengaluru court on holding the meeting, The Hindu reported. The directive preceded the Madras High Court’s order. “If the situation warranted, the Edappadi Palaniswami government would be sent home, and an acceptable leader would be brought in to run the government for the remaining term,” Dinakaran said.

AIADMK crisis

On August 10, Dinakaran was removed from the post of the AIADMK’s deputy general secretary ahead of Palaniswami faction’s merger with the O Panneerselvam camp. Dinakaran, along with 19 party legislators, met Tamil Nadu Governor C Vidyasagar Rao on August 22, claiming the support of at least 22 MLAs. He had also demanded that Palaniswami be removed from the chief minister’s post.

On September 7, Dinakaran’s supporter and Cumbun MLA ST Jakkaiyan defected to the Edappadi Palaniswami camp. The opposing faction, as well as the Dravida Munnetra Kazagham, have been demanding a floor test in the Tamil Nadu Assembly.