Sasikala herds MLAs, Panneerselvam claims they will back him
As the Governor is set to arrive in Chennai today, the political drama in Tamil Nadu gathers momentum
Chennai: AIADMK General Secretary VK Sasikala yesterday appeared to be having majority of MLAs with her, a day after the revolt by Chief Minister O Panneerselvam who claimed that they will back him in the trial of strength in Tamil Nadu Assembly. Governor Vidyasagar Rao is said to be going to Chennai today.
After the midnight rebellion, Sasikala called a meeting of party MLAs at the party headquarters in a show of strength yesterday morning and later herded them in buses to undisclosed destination in a bid to keep the flock together.
There were unconfirmed reports that AIADMK would even parade the MLAs before the President if the Governor delays the swearing-in of Sasikala. In an act of defiance, Panneerselvam said an inquiry commission under a sitting Supreme Court judge will be set up to probe the "doubts" surrounding the health condition and demise of Jayalalithaa.
Sasikala attacks OP
Addressing the legislators, Sasikala, who sacked Panneerselvam from the post of treasurer, launched a no-holds-barred attack on him, saying he had betrayed the party and "fully merged" with DMK which Jayalalithaa had fought all her life.
She claimed she had got wind of his moves a few days ago. "Our rivals are showing their true face. We will prove our might to them. No one has the power or capacity to split or break us. I will solve the confusion arising in people's minds at the right time," she said.
The opposition emerging now was proof that "certain developments our rivals don't desire are happening in the party," she said in an apparent reference to her elevation. "That is why there is this flutter. Neither AIADMK nor me will be cowed down by this," she said.
OP to fight back
Panneerselvam, who was chosen by Jayalalithaa as stop-gap chief minister when she had to quit twice, maintained that he enjoyed support of majority of MLAs and would prove it on the floor of the house at an appropriate time.
"The ministers and MLAs who are now with the other side will soon realise the reality and the current extraordinary situation will change," he said, an apparent reference to the ministers rallying behind Sasikala.
Panneerselvam also dismissed the accusation by Sasikala that he was colluding with DMK and by others that PM Narendra Modi and BJP were backing him.
DMK denies allegations
DMK Working President MK Stalin said his party had nothing to with "internal squabbles" in AIADMK and accused Sasikala of making false allegations after failing to become CM through a "short cut". "We had never extended our support to Chief Minister Panneerselvam. We supported the Panneerselvam-led government on certain people's issues, on certain policies and Bills," Stalin said.
Deepa Jayakumar, late Jayalalithaa's niece, described as "shocking," the sudden turn of events. About Panneerselvam stating that he would "certainly invite" her to work with him, she said, "Only through the media, I got to know Mr Panneerselvam's invite, there was no personal invite."