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MADURAI: The divisions within the AIADMK have cast a shadow over the coming Thevar Jayanthi celebrations to mark the birth and death anniversary of iconic thevar leader Pasumpon Muthuramalingam. Raising queries about the `real’ AIADMK, the Madurai branch of the Bank of India has declined to hand over to the ruling dispensation a golden armour donated by former chief minister J Jayalalithaa to commemorate the thevar leader. Muthuramalinga thevar represents a dominant community that forms AIADMK’s support base in the south. The armour will be the toast of the gu ru pooja that will begin on October 28 and end on October 31.
The armour has been kept in the bank’s vaults and is handed over to the descendants of the thevar leader and AIADMK treasurer during the event. Sources said that since there is a dispute over AIADMK and its symbol, which is being heard by the Election Commission, the Bank of India branch in Anna Nagar in Madurai has raised some queries about who will represent the party .”After clarifications are provided to the bank, the armour would be handed over to the true custodians, in a day or two,” said a senior party leader in the ruling camp.
When deputy chief minister O Panneerselvam revolted against Sasikala in February this year, she removed him from the post of party treasurer and replaced him with Dindigul C Sreenivasan. OPS is said to have immediately written to the chief managers of Karur Vysya Bank and Bank of India, with which AIADMK holds major accounts, asking them not to allow anyone to operate them. For chief minister Edappadi K Palaniswami and OPS, the success of the thevar event would be an assertion of their leadership and would ensure goodwill among the thevars, who have largely remained devoted to AIADMK.
Jayalalithaa had, in 2014, donated to the thevar memorial the golden armour, weighing 13kg and estimated to cost `4.5 crore. Every year, after Thevar jayanthi celebrations, the armour is kept in a safe in the Bank of India branch in Madurai. The treasurer of the AIADMK, a post held by OPS for nearly a decade now, and the person in charge of the Thevar memorial in Pasumpon, are joint signatories to this safe deposit.
Even last year, OPS visited the bank on October 26, and received the armour along with trustee Gandhi Meenal, who is now ailing. It was taken under tight security to the memorial. Sources say the bank had raised some questions. But, the armour was likely to be handed over to Gandhi Meenal’s heir in a day or two, after the clarification is received.