In a boost to O Panneerselvam camp, an MLA and three MPs of AIADMK on Saturday joined him after deserting V K Sasikala who met the legislators supporting her and threatened to hold protests on Sunday against the delay in swearing her in as the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu.
MLA and School Education Minister K Pandiarajan as also MPs P R Sundaram, K Ashok Kumar and Satyabama switched over to the Chief Minister’s camp, pledging their support to him, amid mounting pressure from the party cadres and apparent public sentiment.
In the evening, party veteran, spokesman and minister in the MGR Cabinet C Ponnaiyan also drove to Panneerselvam’s residence and offered his support.
After these switchovers, Panneerselvam camp now has seven MLAs, including him. In the 235-member Tamil Nadu Assembly, AIADMK has 135 MLAs.
A former minister M M Rajendra Prasad also joined the Chief Minister’s camp.
Rattled by the desertions, Sasikala, who has been elected the Leader of the AIADMK Legislature Party on February 5, drove to the luxury resort, 100 km from Chennai, in an attempt to prevent the MLAs who have been put up there for the last three days from switching sides.
K A Sengottaiyan, who was appointed the presidium chairman after the removal of Madhusudhanan, told reporters after Sasikala’s meeting with the MLAs that all of them have taken a pledge that they will back her to the hilt till she becomes Chief Minister.
Kept on wait, Sasikala on Saturday night said, “We were patient, tomorrow we will protest.”
Earlier in the day, she wrote a letter to Governor Vidyasagar Rao, asking him to take steps immediately to swear her in at the earliest. She said she was ready to parade the party MLAs supporting her before him.
She told him she had on Thursday submitted an “elaborate presentation to invite me to form the government as I have absolute majority,” besides the original letter and true copy of the resolution electing her as the AIADMK Legislature party leader.
Sasikala said she believed that the Governor would “act immediately to save the sovereignty of the Constitution, democracy and the interest” of Tamil Nadu.