The All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam on Sunday ordered its leaders not to express their criticism of the party leadership in public, PTI reported. The directive came after at least two MLAs voiced their concerns about the lack of a unitary leadership in the party.

The AIADMK is led by coordinator O Panneerselvam and co-coordinator Edappadi K Palaniswami. Palaniswami also serves as the chief minister of Tamil Nadu and Panneerselvam as his deputy. The remarks against them by the two MLAs came days after the AIADMK won only nine of the 22 Assembly constituencies in the state that went for bye-elections in the last two months. The party, however, maintained its majority in the Assembly.

On Sunday, the party called a meeting of its ministers, district secretaries, MPs and MLAs on June 12, to be chaired by Palaniswami and Panneerselvam at the party headquarters in Chennai. A joint statement by the two leaders said: “Whoever wishes to express their views for the welfare of AIADMK should utilise opportunities in party fora like the general and executive councils, besides consultative sessions.”

The party said statements about internal affairs may become fodder for the Opposition parties to target the AIADMK. The statement added, according to The Hindu: “The comments by some of our party brethren through the media, over party leadership and how the future course should be are not desirable.”

MLAs’ statements

On Saturday, party leader VV Rajan Chellappa, who is an MLA, had said a single “charismatic” leadership should be at the helm of the party, and that dual power centres blocked quick decisions. A day later, Kunnam MLA RT Ramachandran was also seen in a video clip pitching for a “unitary leadership” that is “strong and unselfish”.

Ramachandran said previous party leaders MG Ramachandran and J Jayalalithaa treated “only the party as their family”. “Whoever tries to threaten or divide the party for their family will be viewed as yet another [Jayalalithaa’s aide] Sasikala by the AIADMK workers,” the Kunnam legislator said.

VK Sasikala became the party’s interim chief after then Chief Minister Jayalalithaa died in 2016. Later, after her imprisonment in a corruption case, Panneerselvam and Palaniswami came together to lead the party.

The party had given a Lok Sabha election ticket to Panneerselvam’s son from the Theni seat, even while Palaniswamy criticised the Opposition Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam for family politics.

Senior party leaders Dindigul C Srinivasan and S Semmalai ruled out any confusion within the party.