Dealing another blow to the Sasikala camp, veteran AIADMK leader and party spokesperson C Ponnaiyan on Saturday joined the ranks of dissident leader O Panneerselvam, hailing him as the “favourite son” of the Tamil Nadu people.
Shortly after Krishnagiri MP Ashok Kumar, Namakkal MP PR Sundaram, and School Education Minister K Pandiarajan joined Panneerselvam, Ponnaiyan a senior leader of the party since the days of AIADMK founder M G Ramachandran joined the Chief Minister-led rival camp.
Ponnaiyan, who led the party’s regular briefing about late chief minister Jayalalithaa’s health status during her 75 days of hospitalisation, said Panneerselvam is giving “good governance..free of corruption,” winning laurels for his work from the people.
Hailing the Chief Minister, he said,”it is only Panneerselvam who is competent to lead both the party and government in tune with the aspirations of party cadres.”He said Panneerselvam had already been “selected as Chief Minister by Amma” and added that he was an “unassuming leader” like the Dravidian ideologue C N Annadurai.
Lauding Panneerselvam’s administrative skills in governance, he said when the Vardah cyclone hit last year, he worked at a “higher speed than the storm and won the huge support of the people.”
Also, he took steps to bring Krishna Waters to Chennai. Similarly, when the youth held huge protests for jallikattu he gave a “new lease of life” to the rural sport by taking steps for its conduct and became the “favourite son of the people.”
He urged people to strengthen the hands of Panneerselvam.
“It is only Chief Minister Panneerselvam who is efficient enough to ensure the welfare of the people, and party workers.”
Ponnaiyan was among the senior leaders who voiced support for Sasikala for the top post of General Secretary after the demise of Jayalalithaa.
Finance Minister during the 2001-06 AIADMK regime and a four-time MLA, he lost the last year’s assembly election from Saidapet constituency.
After being in political wilderness beginning 2006, he was again brought back to party mainstream by Jayalalaihtaa in 2008 when she had named him as party’s political advisor.