Just like a typical Bollywood movie complete with masala and emotion, the high-stakes power tussle in Tamil Nadu is taking new twists and turns every day.
With the Raj Bhawan taking a wait-and-watch approach, two prominent members from Sasikala’s camp — Education Minister K. Pandiarajan and party spokesperson C. Ponnaiyan — switched sides to join Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam (OPS).
In addition, four MPs — P.R. Sundaram from Namakkal, K. Ashok Kumar from Krishnagiri, R. Vanaroja from Tiruvannamalai and V. Sathyabhama from Tiruppur — also came out in support of Panneerselvam.
On February 12, three more joined the list. So, OPS now has the support of 10 MPs and 7 MLAs, including himself.
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 !
— Pandiarajan K (@mafoikprajan) February 11, 2017
After posting a tweet that he would listen to the ‘collective voice of the people’, Pandiarajan said he was backing Panneerselvam because he did not want the AIADMK to split.
“He has earned the goodwill of the people through his work during Cyclone Vardah and the oil spill. I realised it will be possible to meet the people during elections and seek votes only when the party is headed by OPS,” said Pandiarajan.
“More MLAs will join Annan (OPS) in the coming days. DMK is trying to split our party and I want to avoid that. The party led by OPS will not take the support of DMK in any manner,” he added.
With Rajya Sabha member V Maithreyan with him, OPS now enjoys the open support of five MPs and seven MLAs. The four Lok Sabha members too said that their decision is based on their voters’ sentiments.
Reports said OPS expected 25 per cent of the MLAs to join him. In the 235-member Tamil Nadu Assembly, AIADMK has 135 MLAs.
Those joining OPS camp blamed Sasikala for not allowing any party member to see Jayalalithaa when she was in hospital for more than 70 days.
“On December 5, Amma’s death was announced at midnight. All party leaders were sobbing, but Sasikala and her 15 family members went into a huddle. They were talking about who should take over as CM. I didn’t see tears in her eyes,” said Sundaram.
Meanwhile, Sasikala maintained that she still has the majority to form the government but alleged that Tamil Nadu governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao is delaying the swearing-in ceremony. She alleged that the delay in inviting her to form the government was a ploy to split the party.
After meeting Governor Rao with her list of MLAs, Sasikala has sent another letter to Raj Bhavan, to parade her MLAs. Many in this camp see the Governor’s delay in taking a decision as an effort to thwart her plans of becoming CM.
Issuing a not-so-wielded warning, she said: “We can be patient only for a while, beyond that we will do whatever is necessary.”