In a major boost to Chief Minister O Panneerselvam, School Education Minister K Pandiarajan on Saturday joined his dissident camp, becoming the first sitting minister to do so.
Pandiarajan, the suave face of the AIADMK, arrived at the Greenways Road residence of Panneerselvam with his supporters and joined his group in the presence of other dissident leaders, including former Minister K P Munsamy and Rajya Sabha MP V Maithreyan.
“My belief is that here is the man who has captured the hearts of the masses. Amma’s legacy will continue to rest on his able shoulders and that is the reason I am here,” Pandiarajan said.
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“We are here as followers of Puratchi Thalaivi Amma,” he said, adding that the “spirit of the masses” would carry the party through.
“This is the voice of the collective,” he said, referring to support for Panneerselvam.
“Every other MP and MLA will see the writing on the wall and will be right here,” Pandiarajan said.
To a question, he said “we have no doubt about Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao’s impartiality.”
Stating that if a non-member of the Assembly were to be sworn in Chief Minister, he or she should have the scope to get elected to the House within six months, he said “the Governor should evaluate this aspect and we believe he is doing it.”
He expressed confidence that the caretaker government would transform into a permanent regime.
Hours before he joined hands with Panneerselvam, Pandiarajan had said he would listen to the voice of his voters.
“Will surely listen to the collective voice of my voters & decide in a way to uphold the dignity of Amma’s memory & unity of AIADMK,” he had tweeted.Welcoming Pandiarajan, Pannerselvam said “let us all unite and slog and guard the people.”
Thanking Pandiarajan, the Chief Minister, in a veiled attack on Sasikala and her family, said “let us work and stop the party and government slipping into the hands of a family.”