The AIADMK crisis: who'll take the party forward?

Sasikala presents legislators before media, denies coercion

Claiming majority support: AIADMK interim general secretary V.K. Sasikala, flanked by MLAs, speaking to the media at a resort in Koovathur on East Coast Road on Sunday.   | Photo Credit: PTI

AIADMK interim general secretary V.K. Sasikala on Sunday denied that party MLAs were being held captive at a resort on the East Coast Road to prevent them from joining the faction of Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam.

Presenting the MLAs, allegedly confined at the Golden Bay Resorts in Koovathur since Tuesday night, before the media, Ms. Sasikala declared that they were all by her side of their free will. “You see for yourself how independent they (the AIADMK MLAs) are and talk freely and are sincere that there should not be any disrepute to the government,” Ms. Sasikala told journalists, who were allowed inside the resort for the first time since Tuesday.

The AIADMK leader earlier held a meeting with the party MLAs at the resort.

When asked how many MLAs were with her, Ms Sasikala evaded a direct reply. She said, “You can count for yourself.” [While separately addressing her legislators, she repeatedly claimed 129 of them were present.]

When asked how long the MLAs would remain at the resort, Ms Sasikala angrily asked the reporter, “Which paper are you from?” and went on to say, “So you have some information (about government formation) in advance?”

Earlier on Sunday, five Lok Sabha members and one Rajya Sabha member joined Mr. Panneerselvam’s faction, taking the number of MPs to 10. The Lok Sabha MPs who switched camps were B. Senguttuvan (Vellore), J. Jayasingh Thiyagaraj Natterjee (Thoothukudi), R.P. Marutharajaa (Perambalur), S. Rajendran (Villupuram) and Parthiban (Theni).

The sole Rajya Sabha MP R. Lakshmanan, was sacked as AIADMK Villupuram North District secretary even before he arrived in Chennai to meet Mr Panneerselvam. Ms. Sasikala appointed Law Minister C.Ve.Shanmugam in his place.

 

Ms. Sasikala in her address to party MLAs declared that she was a lioness and had, along with the late Jayalalithaa, seen prisons in Chennai and Bengaluru only to emerge to govern again; hence none could could intimidate her.

“The government is here (129 MLAs at the resort). I have taken a vow. If you are all with me, we will form the next government and go to Amma’s (Jayalalithaa) memorial, and take a group photo with the Cabinet ministers and legislators and march to the Fort (St George) and unveil the portrait of Amma in the Assembly. That will be the befitting tribute to our leader,” she said.

Later, speaking to journalists, she alleged that those who had left her faction and rivals had deliberately supplied “wrong information” to the media that the MLAs at the resort were kept in captivity. Claiming that the legislators were in touch with their families, she alleged there were threats to some MLAs’ children.

When a reporter asked for her comments on about the delay in the Governor’s decision to invite rival factions to form the government, someone in the crowd rudely asked the reporter to shut up. Ms. Sasikala then responded: “The entire world knows why there is a delay. You would also know.”

 

To a query on her next course of action, she said, “You will see that for yourself. You are going to be here. You wait and watch.” Ms Sasikala also pointed out that the Raj Bhavan had denied sending any report when asked about the Governor’s report to the Centre.

To a query on whether she had plans to stage a protest if she was not invited to form the government, she said, “We are working towards that.”

Questioned about the impending verdict of the Supreme Court in the disproportionate assets case, in which she is one of the accused, Ms. Sasikala said, “Let it come, we shall see. (Why) are you coming to a conclusion even before it comes,” she said.

Earlier, before heading out to Koovathur, Ms. Sasikala said her party believed in democracy. “Even while Amma was in power, I witnessed the challenges and difficulties she faced. So, all these events are not new to me. After MGR’s death too, there were efforts to break the party. Ms. Jayalalithaa has worked hard and nothing can break our party. You all know how difficult it is for a woman to be in politics,” she said.

Countering Ms Sasikala’s claims, Mr Panneerselvam alleged that the MLAs at the resort were being tortured. He questioned the need for Ms Sasikala to visit them for a second consecutive day, if she had the confidence of forming the government.

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Printable version | Nov 30, 2020 7:48:57 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/Sasikala-presents-legislators-before-media-denies-coercion/article17293653.ece

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