CHENNAI: After performing to be a willing pawn in the hands of V K Sasikala ever since J Jayalalithaa‘s death on December 5, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O Panneerselvam surprised everyone on Tuesday night, blaming Sasikala and senior party leaders of “forcing” him to resign as Chief Minister.
The surprise development caused questions over Sasikala’s proposed swearing-in and buzzes on the possibility of President’s rule in the state. After O Panneerselvam stated he would withdraw his resignation if party cadres so wished, numerous ministers rushed to Poes Garden, some worried about a split in the party. DMK leader M K Stalin insisted the governor to ensure a “valid government.”
O Panneerselvam chose former chief minister J Jayalalithaa’s resting place on Marina beach as the stage for his intense outburst. Around 9pm, he walked in with minimal security and sat in meditation at Jayalalithaa’s memorial. After 40 minutes, he woke up with a vow to “fight it out all alone to save the glory of the party”.
He stated his cabinet colleagues R B Udhaya Kumar and Sellur K Raju, and party leader K A Sengottaiyan outraged him and demanded that Sasikala should be made CM. “I was forced to organise a meeting of party MLAs on Sunday, but was kept in the dark that it was meant for electing Sasikala as the legislature party leader,” he stated.
When he asked why the hurry, he was threatened with disciplinary action. “When I sought permission to visit Amma’s memorial to take permission, I was told that I could do it later,” stated O Panneerselvam.
Then and there he was forced to put in his papers, he stated. Some party leaders, who rushed to Poes Garden, stated the governor was acting on the Centre’s directives. “Given that verdict in disproportionate assets case is expected in a week’s time, we suspect the Centre is behind the move,” stated a senior minister.
Sources stated governor must have consulted legal experts who felt it would be better for Sasikala to wait till the SC judgement. Some party leaders believe O Panneerselvam has the backing of the BJP government at the Centre. “No wonder that M Natarajan, Sasikala’s husband, had recently blamed the Modi government of making an attempt to weaken the government and saffronise the state.
This suspicion was further fuelled by Modi’s decision to meet only O Panneerselvam and not the AIADMK MPs who sought his appointment over the jallikattu ordinance,” stated an MP. Lok Sabha deputy speaker M Thambidurai had criticised the PM for not giving an audience.