Ousted Tamil Nadu chief minister O Panneerselvam on Thursday said he and his supporters would not allow the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam to fall into the hands of few members of party chief VK Sasikala’s family. “We’ll continue with our ‘dharm yudh’ [moral battle] until Amma’s [J Jayalalithaa’s] rule is established,” he added.
His statement comes soon after Tamil Nadu Governor Vidyasagar Rao appointed Edappadi K Palanisamy chief minister and invited him to form the government. MLAs from the Sasikala faction had chosen Palanisamy to be the legislative party leader after she was convicted in a disproportionate assets case. On Wednesday, Sasikala had appointed her nephew Dinakaran the AIADMK deputy general secretary, then surrendered before a Bengaluru trial court.
MLAs from the Sasikala camp, who have been lodged at Golden Bay resort near Chennai, since last week, were part of raucous celebrations when they heard news of Palanisamy’s appointment. AIADMK workers and supporters distributed sweets outside the resort after the Raj Bhavan announced the governor’s decision. The legislators have now left the Kuvatur lodgings.
Moreover, senior AIADMK leader and staunch Sasikala supporter M Thambidurai denied that there were factions within the party, saying Panneerselvam was the only defecting leader. “Now, his questions should not be heeded because he is no longer a party member,” Thambidurai said, adding that Palanisamy will be inducted around 4.30 pm. “Except Panneerselvam, all 134 MLAs are with us.”
Thambidurai’s statement comes even as AIADMK legislator and OPS supporter V Maitreyan is slated to meet Election Commission officials in Delhi to oust Sasikala from the post of the party’s general secretary. The polling monitor is scheduled to hear another such petition, and based on its decision, her actions as the AIADMK chief will either stand valid or be nullified.
Another leader from the Panneerselvam camp, K Pandiarajan, said many MLAs support only Jayalalithaa’s rule, and not that of “one family”, referring to Sasikala. Another AIADMK leader and OPS supporter S Semmalai said “Now, we’ll go back to our party supporters and discuss who will lead the AIADMK next.”