Leader of rival AIADMK faction O Panneerslevam on Tuesday again voiced his opposition to party chief V K Sasikala, saying their “basic principle” was that the party and government should not be in the hands of a family.
Panneerselvam, expelled by Sasikala following his revolt against her in February this year, also remained firm on his faction’s demand for a probe into late J Jayalalithaa’s death.
Meanwhile, sources in the Panneerselvam camp said it will join for talks the rival faction only if the “Sasikala family is ousted from AIADMK,” a day after several ministers met in Chennai to discuss modalities of a possible merger between the rival factions.
The former chief minister claimed that Sasikala was appointed General Secretary following Jayalalithaa’s death in “contravention” of party laws as a chief has to be elected.
His faction, which has challenged before the Election Commission Sasikala’s elevation as general secretary, had submitted a petition to the EC yesterday, seeking a ruling based on the party laws, Panneerselvam said.
“Our founder MGR (MG Ramachandran) and Amma (Jayalalithaa) created this party as one for the people and the cadre and this is a democratic organisation. If we don’t follow this path then it shall be an injustice to the people,” he said.
“This is our basic principle. AIADMK should continue on this democratic path laid out by MGR and Amma,” he said.
Panneerselvam said Sasikala and members of her family had been earlier expelled from the party by Jayalalithaa although Sasikala returned after issuing a letter of apology and assuring her that she would not seek any party post.
“The party and government should not be in the hands of a family. MGR did not even allow his brother (in party affairs). The party and government should not be in the control of a family as people will hate such a system,” he added.
Accusing AIADMK (Amma) faction leader TTV Dhinakaran of committing “irregularities” in the run up to the now cancelled April 12 R K Nagar Assembly bypoll, he alleged that voters were paid cash by his camp.
He referred to the April 7 Income Tax raids at the premises of Health Minister C Vijayabaskar and the Delhi Police booking Dhinakaran for allegedly trying to bribe an Election Commission official to retain ‘Two Leaves,’ a symbol both factions have been staking claim to.
“The middleman (Sukesh Chandrasekar) was caught through central intelligence. So we have been insisting that the (Sasikala) family to which we are opposed, had indulged in activities bringing disrepute to Tamil Nadu,” he said.
On the issue of probe into the treatment and subsequent death of Jayalalithaa, Panneerselvam said they would not rest “till there is a judicial probe”, a demand raised by the faction.
“We have undertaken a dharma yudh. And it is our basic duty to uncover the mystery behind Amma’s death,” he added.
The AIADMK suffered a vertical split on February 7 when Panneerselvam alleged that he was forced by Sasikala to make way for her elevation as Chief Minister. The two factions had since staked claim to the two leaves symbol which the Election Commission subsequently froze.