Sasikala stays back with flock, MLA ‘escapes’

Updated - November 28, 2021 09:54 pm IST

Published - February 14, 2017 01:05 am IST - CHENNAI:

AIADMK General Secretary V.K. Sasikala interacting with party MLAs at a resort in Koovathur near Chennai on Sunday.

AIADMK General Secretary V.K. Sasikala interacting with party MLAs at a resort in Koovathur near Chennai on Sunday.

A week into the political turmoil in Tamil Nadu, there was no word from the Raj Bhavan on the steps to form a stable government on Monday, even as some intense action was witnessed in rival camps of the ruling AIADMK headed by V.K. Sasikala and O. Panneerselvam.

While Ms. Sasikala went to the Golden Bay Resort in Koovathur near here and stayed back to keep her flock of MLAs together, the Madurai South MLA S.S. Saravanan escaped from the resort “in disguise” and landed in Chennai to join the Chief Minister’s camp.

Madurai Lok Sabha member R. Gopalakrishnan too backed Mr. Panneerselvam, taking the number of MPs in his faction to 12 (including two from the Rajya Sabha).

Mr. Saravanan claimed that being a civil engineer, he plotted his escape from the well-guarded resort by coming out wearing a T. shirt and Bermudas. “I wanted to leave before Ms. Sasikala came there,” he told journalists.

During the course of the day, Ms. Sasikala, addressing her supporters at Poes Garden, announced that it was she who had asked Mr. Panneerselvam to urgently seek an appointment with the Governor and take the oath of office as Chief Minister, along with the same Council of Ministers, past midnight on December 5, 2016 when Jayalalithaa died. She claimed that immediately after Jayalalithaa’s death, she sensed a conspiracy to divide the party.

Ms. Sasikala’s announcement stoked a controversy wondering how she took the decision on who should head the Government and what the composition of the Council of Ministers should be when she was neither an office-bearer of the AIADMK or held any constitutional office at that time. She was appointed interim general secretary only on December 29, 2016. Critics felt that her revelation proved their charge that Ms. Sasikala always functioned as an extra-constitutional authority.

The AIADMK leader further claimed that five Ministers, including Mr. Panneerselvam, had then urged her to take over as Chief Minister, saying “people would accept only her,” but she had declined contending that Jayalalithaa’s funeral was more important.

According to her, “many persons” were out to split the party and that is why she insisted that Mr. Panneerselvam’s Cabinet be sworn in without delay.

Meanwhile, for the first time since he rebelled against the leadership, Mr. Panneerselvam went to the Secretariat and had extensive interactions with officials, including Chief Secretary Girija Vaidyanathan, and some top police officers, ostensibly to assert his position. He went to the Secretariat shortly after 1 p.m. and remained there till 8 p.m. Besides issuing orders for compensation to the family of a girl who was raped and murdered, he was involved in discussions with officials, who appeared to have had a free chat with him.

Earlier in the day, Ponraj, former scientific adviser to the late President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, met Mr. Panneerselvam at his Greenways Road bungalow and extended support to him.

The DMK conducted its high-level executive meeting in Chennai under the leadership of its working president M.K. Stalin and urged the Governor to ensure that a floor test was done immediately so that a stable government could be formed.

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