Panneerselvam revolts against Sasikala, sends AIADMK into tizzy
Chennai: Former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam on Tuesday evening revolted against AIADMK General Secretary V.K. Sasikala, saying he was forced to resign as the head of government.
“I was forced to resign by Sasikala,” a pensive Panneerselvam told reporters at Marina Beach 40 minutes after meditating at Jayalalithaa’s memorial.
Panneerselvam, who quit on Sunday as the Chief Minister, said he was forced to step down by Sasikala.
“I want to reveal some truths to the people of the country and members of the party, Amma’s ‘aatma’ (soul) has urged me to do so,” Panneerselvam said.
“Only a person, who can protect the party and run the government on the principles laid by late J. Jayalalithaa, should come to the helm,” he said after ending his 40-minute meditation at Jayalalithaa’s memorial at night.
He said the party’s General Secretary should be elected by all the members through an election.
“I will fight for this even if I am alone,” the otherwise soft-spoken Panneerselvam thundered.
He said Sasikala and her supporters got upset with the success of his government on issues like Jallikattu protest, mitigating the drinking water crisis in Chennai, setting right the damage caused by Vardah cyclone and others.
Sasikala, a long-time confidante of Jayalalithaa, who died on December 5, was set to head the Tamil Nadu government after the AIADMK elected her as its legislature party leader on Sunday.
His comments come on a day of revolt by former Tamil Nadu Speaker P.H. Pandian and Deepa Jayakumar, the niece of Jayalalithaa.
Pandian, who was the Speaker when the iconic AIADMK founder M.G. Ramachandran was the Chief Minister, spoke to the media at his residence along with his son Manoj Pandian, a former Rajya Sabha member.
The senior Pandian said Jayalalithaa’s death was unnatural.
Manoj Pandian also claimed that Jayalalithaa had once told him that she may be poisoned to death.
“When ‘Thuglaq’ Editor Cho Ramaswamy and I were Directors of Jaya TV, she (Jayalalithaa) told us that she fears this group would poison her to death,” Manoj Pandian said. Cho Ramaswamy died on December 6.
“I told her she does not belong to one family but to over 1.5 crore members of the AIADMK. The people of Tamil Nadu will protect you,” the junior Pandian claimed.
Jayakumar made known her dislike of Sasikala by saying that “being with someone for 33 years is not a qualification to become the Chief Minister”.
“A lot of people are unhappy over the happenings in the AIADMK,” she told the media at her house. “The people of Tamil Nadu are not happy with Sasikala becoming the Chief Minister.”
Tracing the events taking place on Sunday, when the meeting of party legislators was called, he said: “I was called to Poes Garden — the residence of Jayalalithaa — where Chinnamma (Sasikala) lives. Her family members, senior ministers and party members were also present.”
“I was told that Sasikala should be made the Chief Minister, to which I asked the need for that at this point. For around two hours, the issue was deliberated,” Panneerselvam said.
“I told them it was a big insult. They held my hand and pleaded to save the party. I wanted to go to Jayalalithaa’s memorial to tell her soul that I was resigning. I was not allowed to do that,” Panneerselvam alleged.
“I will become Chief Minister again if people and cadres want me,” he said.
Panneerselvam said he was denied permission to visit Jayalalithaa’s memorial on Sunday before the start of MLAs’ meeting.
He said he was compelled to agree to Sasikala’s proposal to propose her name for the post of the leader of legislature party.
According to Panneerselvam, two days after he became the Chief Minister, state’s Health Minister Vijayabhaskar met him saying that Divakaran — Sasikala’s relative — wanted Sasikala to be elected as the General Secretary.
Meanwhile, Revenue Minister R.B. Udhyakumar told the media that Sasikala should be made the Chief Minister and similar demands were made by others, including Lok Sabha Deputy Speaker Thambidurai, Panneerselvam said.
According to him, when the matter was taken up with Sasikala, there was no proper response.
Soon after Panneerselvam’s announcement, senior leaders and ministers rushed to meet Sasikala.