Controversies surrounding Sasikala after Jayalalithaa's death

Could have become CM the day Jaya died: Sasikala

Reiterating her charge that Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam “hobnobbed” with the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) in the Assembly a few days ago, AIADMK interim general secretary V.K. Sasikala on Monday said she would not have disturbed Mr. Panneerselvam from his post had he “emphatically turned down” the DMK’s ‘offer of support’ to him.

It may be recalled that on the last day of the Assembly session, DMK Deputy Floor Leader Duraimurugan had jovially told Mr. Panneerselvam, “We want you to continue as Chief Minister. We want only you as Chief Minister and we will back you.”

Arguing that Mr. Panneerselvam should have asked why would he need the DMK’s support when the AIADMK had formed a majority government, Ms. Sasikala accused the Chief Minister of having conspired to form a government with the support of the DMK.

Addressing cadre at Poes Gardens, she said “their [Mr. Panneerselvam and the DMK] calculation is that he should come out of the party with as many persons [legislators] as possible. With the support of the DMK which has the strength of 89 [in the House], they have planned to establish a government.” It was Mr. Panneerselvam who forced her to take the steps that she did [last week].

However, critics pointed out that on the day she was elected leader of the AIADMK Legislature Party, she had hailed Mr. Panneerselvam describing him as her “dear brother”. Therefore, the theory that she was angry at him for the Assembly episodes would not hold water.

Ms. Sasikala also claimed that she could have been sworn in Chief Minister on the night her long-time friend Jayalalithaa died on December 5, 2016.

According to her, five ministers including the rebel leader Mr. Panneerselvam had urged her to take over the top job. “I had told them that for me, more than anything, Akka [Jayalalithaa] is important. [On the day of funeral], I had to be with her body. I would not be away from the body even an inch. I have never aspired for any office. Whatever had to be done immediately should be done. If required, we can think of it later,” she claimed, addressing party members at Veda Nilayam.

Since she was in a “state of grief” following Jayalalithaa’s death, the post of Chief Minister did not appear important to her then.

Claiming that after MGR’s death when Jayalalithaa was pulled down from his gun carriage she wanted to quit politics, Ms. Sasikala said, only “I motivated her” not to give up and instead prove a point to the men who humiliated her.

‘Have seen it all’

Ms. Sasikala said she had assisted Jayalalithaa in her duties. “My job was to receive petitions from AIADMK cadre and bring to the notice of Amma [Jayalalithaa] those petitions that required urgent action. I was also involved in negotiations for alliance [at the time of elections].”

Explaining why she chose to install Mr. Panneerselvam as Chief Minister, she said her foremost priority was the continuance of the government, which was brought in by Jayalalithaa. “For this, I am prepared to sacrifice my life.”

Describing the Chief Minister as an “ordinary person” from Periyakulam, she said,

“No single individual can divide the party. I have seen one thousand Panneerselvams before reaching the present position.”

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Printable version | Nov 29, 2020 3:58:32 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/Could-have-become-CM-the-day-Jaya-died-Sasikala/article17298763.ece

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