Chennai/New Delhi: AIADMK general secretary V.K. Sasikala today held a meeting with her party’s MLAs at the AIADMK headquarters to discuss the developing situation.
The general secretary told MLAs, “Nobody has the power to split or divide us..betrayal has never won,” adding, “Neither AIADMK nor me will be cowed down.”
Apart from reiterating that chief minister O. Panneerselvam’s actions are part of a DMK-led conspiracy against the party, Sasikala also took a dig at Panneerselvam saying, “Amma gave him several opportunities when she was alive. Which is why I gave him an opportunity as well,” the News Minute reported.
Meanwhile, the party’s internal factions are coming into the public eye with the @TNCMO Twitter handle being appropriated by Panneerselvam’s supporters and the Sasikala faction controlling @AIADMKOfficial. However, Sasikala has now removed the party’s IT wing secretary, G Ramachandran, for anti-party activities and appointed V.V.R. Raj Sathyan in his place, the News Minute reported.
Panneerselvam ready to fight
After raising a banner of revolt against Sasikala, Panneerselvam today said he will withdraw his resignation, if required, and said his strength will to be known in the state assembly.
Panneerselvam – who was sacked as AIADMK treasurer by Sasikala last night following his outburst against her – insisted she was made the party general secretary under “extraordinary circumstances” following Jayalalithaa’s death and does not have the power to remove him from his post in her capacity as a temporary general secretary.
Elaborating on his contention, Panneerselvam said the party was already facing legal problems and explained the process of how the party elects a general secretary.
“This is the party’s norm. As per the party’s constitution – framed by founder M. G. Ramachandran at the time of floating the AIADMK – legal sanction for the post will come only when all primary members elect the General Secretary. Such a General Secretary alone has the powers to appoint or remove party functionaries,” he said.
He added that the party will soon hold elections to determine who the “permanent” general secretary will be.
“If required, I will withdraw my resignation,” said Panneerselvam, who was flanked by P.H. Pandian, the party’s Rajya Sabha MP Maithreyan and others, including V.C. Aarukutty.
Tamil Nadu’s chief minister also made it known that he could not meet Jayalalithaa even once during her 75 days of hospitalisation and said he would recommend an inquiry commission, constituted under a sitting Supreme Court judge, to probe the “doubts” surrounding the late leader’s health and eventual demise.
“There are widespread doubts on Amma’s health among people. It is the responsibility of a government to clear those doubts. An inquiry commission will be recommended to be set up under a sitting supreme court judge (to probe the matter),” he said.
He said he will reach out to the people of Tamil Nadu by going from street to street and welcomed the idea of working together with Jayalalithaa’s niece, Deepa Jayakumar, who is also opposed to Sasikala’s ascension to chief minister.
Panneerselvam also dismissed Sasikala’s charge that the DMK was behind his revolt against the party leadership.
Referring to Sasikala’s accusations, he said, “She should be asked to explain the basis of her charge.I was never cordial with DMK. A look back into the history will make it clear. There is no relationship at all between me and the DMK.”
Sasikala had pointed out that the chief minister was smiling and pleasant in his interactions with DMK’s working president M.K. Stalin – the leader of opposition – in the assembly, to which Panneerselvam responded, “Its only the human approach to reciprocate when some one smiles at you. That is the difference between animals and humans.”
Panneerselvam also reiterated his charge from last night, that he was forced to resign from the post of chief minister but declined to answer a question on whether he would stake his claim with the state’s governor to continue, saying “Just wait and watch.”
He also addressed allegations of him being backed by the BJP, calling them a “lie.”
“I don’t want to go into it. I had already explained in detail at Amma’s (Jayalalithaa) memorial the circumstances under which I was forced to resign,” he said.
Speaking on being attacked by fellow AIADMK leaders, including his cabinet colleagues, Panneerselvam said it was a “compulsion of time”.
“They can only speak like that when they are there (with Sasikala). They are in a state of mind of retaining their office for the next four years. They should act keeping in mind that they have to go back to the people,” he said.
On the charge that he had betrayed the party high command, the senior leader said he resigned when he was forced only because he did not want the charge to fall on him.
Recalling how he had first been appointed chief minister when Jayalalithaa “faced challenges” (court conviction), Panneerselvam said he had always abided by the principles and ideals of party founder M.G. Ramachandran and Jayalalithaa.
Addressing his opponents’ allegations of the BJP backing him, Panneerselvam said, “it was a lie.” And added, “They (his opponents) don’t have any strong ground against me. They can’t level any allegation against me.”
Political parties react
The Centre or BJP has no role in “internal matters” of crisis-ridden AIADMK, union minister Venkaiah Naidu today said and asserted that Tamil Nadu governor C. Vidyasagar Rao, will take a decision in line with the constitution to resolve the issue.
“I don’t want to comment on what is happening internally in AIADMK. And Centre and BJP doesn’t have any role in it,” said Naidu.
“Secondly, the allegations against the governor too are wrong. He will take the right decision at the right time in line with the constitution and after seeking opinion of legal experts,” he told reporters.
The DMK too addressed Sasikala’s claims of it supporting Panneerselvam. Hitting back at Sasikala, Stalin today said his party had nothing to with the ruling dispensation’s “internal squabbles” and accused the AIADMK general secretary of making false allegations after failing to become chief minister through a “short cut”.
Stalin also sought a CBI probe into Panneerselvam’s claim that he was forced to resign to make way for Sasikala.
The Tamil Nadu opposition leader also asked Sasikala to respond to Panneerselvam’s various allegations instead of pointing fingers at his party and accused her of trying to find a way out of the problems in her party.
On Sasikala’s remarks that he and Panneerselvam were looking at each other and laughing together in the assembly, Stalin described it as a part of his party’s “political decency”.
He said he used to exchange pleasantries even with the late Jayalalithaa and asked if that also amounted to similar allegations.
“As leader of opposition, I had attended her swearing-in as chief minister last year and greeted her for which Jayalalithaa had thanked me. Could Sasikala ask the same question to Jayalalithaa,” Stalin said in a statement.
He recalled that when Jayalalithaa was hospitalised, he had visited the hospital to enquire about her health and later paid his last respects after she died. He had also consoled Panneerselvam, who was there when the body was lying in state.
Even after Panneerselvam was appointed chief minister, the DMK wanted to continue this practice of “political decency” and “perhaps Sasikala did not like this cooperation between the ruling and opposition parties,” he said.
“Panneerselvam has listed the insults faced by him last night. If she can, let Sasikala respond to those,” he said.
Stalin further alleged that the state’s administrative machinery has “collapsed.”
“The governor should immediately come to Chennai and take due steps to protect Tamil Nadu’s welfare,” said Stalin.
Speaking in Delhi, DMK MP Kanimozhi too sought governor Rao’s intervention in the matter.
She described the developments as “shocking and one pushing Tamil Nadu into uncertainty” and said her party will take an “issue-based stand” in the matter and not back any individual leader.
“It is a shocking development and clouds of uncertainty are hovering over Tamil Nadu. The governor must intervene in the matter and sort out things,” Kanimozhi told reporters on parliament premises.