‘Sasikala already removed from party’
Admitting to a steep fall in membership in the ruling party in less than two years after Jayalalithaa’s death, AIADMK co-coordinator and Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami on Thursday said the new membership tally was 40 lakh less than the much-touted figure of 1.5 crore cadre.
The party also took the position that former Chief Minister Jayalalithaa’s jailed aide V.K. Sasikala had ceased to be a member of the AIADMK (the party had not expelled her).
At a function organised to distribute new membership cards at the AIADMK headquarters in Chennai, Mr. Palaniswami claimed that the AIADMK now has 1,10,41,600 members. The number was achieved over a short period of time.
“When Amma (Jayalalithaa) was alive, 1.5 crore members were added over a five-year period,” he said.
The deadline for renewing memberships during the drive — the first such after the passing of former general secretary Jayalalithaa — was June 30.
Trying to downplay the shortfall, he said: “Over time, the party’s 1.5 crore members have come to be spoken of in the same breath as the likes of founder M.G. Ramachandran, Jayalalithaa and the two leaves election symbol.”
“In about six months, about 50 lakh people will join or renew membership. We will then have more members than during Amma’s time,” he claimed.
“The Ilaignar Ilampengal Pasarai and Amma Peravai had a membership of 31 lakh. The youngsters who were part of the Ilaignar Ilampengal Pasarai have grown older, so we have to enrol new members. When we complete that process, we will have about two crore members,” said AIADMK coordinator and Deputy Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam.
‘Cut all ties’
Mr. Panneerselvam said that the AIADMK had cut all ties with V.K. Sasikala and her nephew T.T.V. Dhinakaran. “She has already been removed from the party during a general council. She is not a primary member,” he claimed.
Joint coordinator K.P. Munusamy clarified further on Sasikala: “We have a new membership roll now. Those who are not part of this roll are not part of the party. Sasikala has not been added to this roll, so she is not a member,” he said.
Party’s organising secretary and Fisheries Minister D. Jayakumar said reiterated that Sasikala and Mr. Dhinakaran had been removed from the AIADMK’s rolls.