AIADMK general secretary VK Sasikala’s potential elevation to the post of chief minister in Tamil Nadu has sparked a political crisis in the state.
Tamil Nadu’s caretaker chief minister O Panneerselvam (OPS) has ordered an inquiry into the death of his mentor J Jayalalithaa, thus intensifying a high-stakes revolt against VK Sasikala – who is trying to use her personal history with late J Jayalalithaa to achieve political prominence.
OPS has given the task of the probe to a retired high court judge. Jayalalithaa suffered a heart attack and passed away on December 5 after spending 75 days in hospital.
VK Sasikala, waiting to take over as Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, is expected to meet Governor C Vidyasagar Rao on February 9. To ensure that she gets the support of all MLAs and to prevent any poaching, she sent 130 loyalist MLAs to five-star hotels and farmhouses.
Sasikala described OPS’s rebellion as a “betrayal” and called him a “liar”. She also accused him of colluding with DMK working president, M K Stalin to “destroy” the party.
The party plunged into crisis when OPS claimed he was forced to resign from the CM post, and accused Sasikala of trying to seize power despite former chief minister Jayalalithaa asking him to succeed her.
“When she was in the hospital I asked her, she (Jayalalithaa) asked me to take over as CM. I never wanted to be CM, they made me CM, then why insult me,” he said.
However, Sasikala needs the support of 117 MLAs to prove her majority during a floor test in the Assembly, but she has support of more than that. It is unclear from where Panneerselvam will get the numbers to prove his majority. It also remains to be seen whether Sasikala loyalists ditch her and rise up for him.
Earlier, OPS claiming to be AIADMK treasurer, wrote to two banks here not to allow anyone else to operate the party’s accounts. The letters were addressed to chief managers of Karur Vysya bank and Bank of India.
The BJP said the power tussle in the AIADMK party is costing the people of state, adding that even late chief minister J Jayalalithaa would not have wanted this to happen.
Taking this opportunity to attack Sasikala, DMK working president MK Stalin accused her of making false allegations after failing to become chief minister through a “short cut”. Stalin also sought a CBI probe into Panneerselvam’s allegations that he was forced to resign to make way for Sasikala.
However, public opinion appears to be in favour of OPS as he is seen as an efficient administrator who was hand-picked by Ms Jayalalithaa twice to take over the CM post. In contrast, Sasikala is considered to be lacking any credential other than her proximity to Ms Jayalalithaa. She has never won an election either within or outside her party.