Six MLAs of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam on Friday told the press that they had chosen to go to a resort about 120 km from Chennai, after allegations arose that 130 legislators had been taken there by force on party chief VK Sasikala’s orders. Opponents said they were taken to the luxury getaway in Marakkanam to ensure that they do not engage with Tamil Nadu caretaker chief minister O Panneerselvam.
Director General of Police TK Rajendra met Governor C Vidyasagar Rao on Friday in connection with the matter, after Panneerselvam’s side alleged that Sasikala was holding the MLAs hostage. Panneerselvam met DGP Rajendran as well as Tamil Nadu Chief Secretary Girija Vaidyanathan and said the MLAs had been carted away in three buses without their regular security staff, who could have stopped the incident from taking place. The DGP, according to television reports, told the governor that claims of AIADMK MLAs being held captive were false.
The police are expected to check on the legislators at the resort as their phones have been out of reach for move than 24 hours. According to an India Today report, mobile jammers have been put in place and internet services have been deactivated. Security guards at Golden Bay Resorts have also been replaced by Sasikala’s supporters, who are stopping people from entering or leaving the premises, reports claim.
An AIADMK leader B Valarmathi claimed that “their phones are switched off because they were getting threatening calls”, NDTV reported. But another party leader Ratnaswami said they had all “assembled at one place” to make it easier for Rao to call them anytime. They blamed the Opposition Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam for creating the chaos surround the MLAs at the resort.
While some have said it was a blatant case of kidnapping. FIRs were also filed to “find the missing MLAs”, and a petition has been filed in the Madras High Court, alleging that the legislators were being held against their will, according to the India Today report. The Madras High Court has asked the Tamil Nadu police to file an affidavit on the MLAs lodged at the resort.
“He [Panneerselvam] finds himself in a hostile situation despite being the CM. He even suspects that the some officers are trying to leak out information from his camp and favoured the Sasikala camp in allowing ‘custody’ of the MLAs,” an official in Panneerselvam’s team told The Indian Express. Panneerselvam had also alleged that Chennai City Commissioner S George had helped Sasikala’s supporters get the MLAs to the resort.
The rift in the AIADMK became evident after Panneerselvam on Tuesday said he had been forced to resign as chief minister. He said his camp is prepared to respond to any allegations levelled by Sasikala and her supporters. Though Sasikala enjoys the support of a majority of AIADMK MLAs, Panneerselvam has claimed that several legislators are on his side and that he can prove his strength in the state Assembly.