A revolt broke out against V K Sasikala in the AIADMK on Tuesday with Chief Minister O Panneerselvam dropping a bombshell that he was forced to resign on Sunday to make way for her and hinted that he may withdraw his resignation if people of Tamil Nadu and party cadres so desired.
The normally quiet and unassuming Man Friday of J Jayalalithaa chose to break his silence on the happenings in the party ever since the death of his mentor on December 5, saying he was being “insulted” by senior ministers and leaders who sought to “undermine” him after electing him the Chief Minister.
In a surprise turn of events on a day when senior AIADMK leader and former Speaker of the state assembly P H Pandian raised the banner of revolt against Sasikala, Panneerselvam made an unexpected visit to Jayalalithaa’s ‘Samadhi’ and sat in meditation for about 40 minutes, creating a flutter in political circles.
Later, talking to journalists he narrated how attempts were made to force him to allow Sasikala’s elevation as CM.
Panneerselvam said his main job after Jayalalithaa’s death was to protect the image of the party and the government as left by the late chief minister, but attempts were made to “sabotage” his endeavours.
On Sunday last, he said, he was called to the Poes Garden residence of Jayalalithaa which is occupied by Sasikala where senior party leaders, MLAs, Ministers and members of her family were present.
“I was called to the meeting about which I did not even know. I went to Chinamma (Sasikala) and they asked me to resign. They said I should resign to make Sasikala the CM. I asked them what’s the necessity for an MLAs’ meeting. They said both the positions of party general secretary and the CM should be with one person,” he said.
“For two hours they tried to convince me. But I asked them whether it is fair to ask me to resign after having elected me the leader of the AIADMK legislature party which I did not want in the first place. Still, I tolerated all the insult just to maintain party discipline.”
Pannerselvam said he wanted to go to Jayalalithaa’s ‘Samadhi’ to “vent out everything that was in my mind” but was not allowed.
“At that stage, they forced me, saying you should follow party discipline. I resigned because I was forced to,” he said.
“I want a CM who will protect the people of the state and the state, even if it is not OPS. But he should protect the image of the government that Jaya provided us. I will fight for it to the last even if I am alone,” he said.
When asked if he could withdraw his resignation, Panneerselvam said,”Yes, if people of the state, and party cadres desire so, I will do it.”