Sasikala v Panneerselvam – How will this end?

As the movie reaches the climax scene, will Panneerselvam emerge victor? Or is the state in for a surprise?

As the movie reaches the climax scene, will Panneerselvam emerge victor? Or is the state in for a surprise?
Does Panneerselvam have the numbers to cause an upset?

[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]T[/dropcap]he political uncertainty in Tamil Nadu remained unresolved even as the State saw a rare sight of two leaders belonging to the same party calling on the Governor to stake their claims to form the government.

Rao, who was away at Mumbai, reached Chennai by Thursday evening and the Raj Bhavan came alive instantly.

Governor C Vidhyasagar Rao held separate meetings with Chief Minister O Panneerselvam who had resigned on Sunday and AIADMK General Secretary V K Sasikala, the two main characters in the cinematic style political drama being unfolded in Chennai.

Rao, who was away at Mumbai, reached Chennai by Thursday evening and the Raj Bhavan came alive instantly. Speaking to journalists after his 15 minutes long meeting with the Governor, Panneerselvam said “Nallathu Nadakkum” (Tamil for good things will happen) and “Dharmam Vellum” (righteousness alone will survive). The political chaos in Chennai began on Tuesday with Panneerselvam alleging that he was coerced to resign by certain leaders of the party.

Now it is for the Governor to decide whether Panneerselvam should be given a chance to prove his majority in the House. This is the first time in the history of independent India a chief minister who had resigned coming out alleging that he was physically forced and threatened to submit the resignation.

[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]S[/dropcap]asikala, clad in a green sari and green blouse a la Jayalalithaa style went to the spot where the former chief minister has been interred, offered her prayers and placed the letters of support from the AIADMK MLAs electing her as the leader of the legislature party at the tomb.

Events that took place after her election as secretary proved that she was out to ruin the party

– Madhusoodanan.

After taking a circumambulation around the tomb, the AIADMK general secretary who was seen shedding some tears for the benefit of the photographers, took the letters back, boarded the Toyota SUV owned by late Jayalalithaa and left for Raj Bhavan.

While she offered floral tributes at the memorials of Jayalalithaa and MGR, the cadre accompanied her shouted Chinnamma Vaazhga. Interestingly, all ministers and party leaders who used to carry the photograph of Jayalalithaa in their shirt pockets have replaced the same with that of Sasikala!

During her visit to Raj Bhavan, Sasikala was accompanied by ten ministers. The Sasikala camp has not opened up about what transpired in the meeting with the Governor.

Meanwhile, Madhusoodanan, the presidium chairman of the AIADMK, who declared his support for Panneerselvam earlier in the day, told reporters later in the evening that he had supported the move to anoint Sasikala as general secretary in the hope that she would work for the growth of the party. “But she was more interested in establishing the supremacy of her family over the party and the government. I had opted out of the race since I thought that Sasikala would be a better person to strengthen the AIADMK. Events that took place after her election as secretary proved that she was out to ruin the party,” said Madhusoodanan.

[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]I[/dropcap]n another development, Panneerselvam had a one-hour meeting with the Chief secretary Girija Vaidyanathan and police chief T K Rajendran. Though the details of the meeting are not known, it is believed that transfer of some top police officers and the steps to declare Veda Nilayam as a national museum in honour of Jayalalithaa were the agenda.

The Sasikala camp alleged that Panneerselvam and others were in discussion with the DMK.

If news coming out in pieces from the AIADMK camps are any indication, Sasikala camp looks like losing the initial advantage it had on Monday morning. Though Sasikala’s confidantes claimed that the faction had the support of 125 MLAs, what stood out on Thursday was the groundswell of support for chief minister O Panneerselvam.

In spite of Sasikala’s camp claims on Wednesday that they had 125 MLAs with them, it has been found that there are only 100 MLAs at the Golden Bay Beach Resort where they are held in captivity. Sasikala camp is reportedly in discussion with the Congress which has eight MLAs in Tamil Nadu. “One cannot rule out such a possibility since S Thirunavukkarasar, the Tamil Nadu Congress Committee (TNCC) President was in the AIADMK before hopping to the BJP and then to the Congress,” said a senior Congress leader.

The Sasikala camp alleged that Panneerselvam and others were in discussion with the DMK. The DMK has been soft in its approach towards the Panneerselvam camp while leaving no stones unturned in attacking Sasikala and her supporters.

[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]E[/dropcap]arlier in the day, Panneerselvam got a morale booster with E Madhusoodanan, presidium chairman of the party (described as the de facto No.2 in the party) driving down to the former’s R A Puram official residence and declaring support to him. On Tuesday night, Panneerselvam, after his 50 minutes long meditation at the Jayalalithaa Memorial at Marina Beach, had revealed that late Jayalalithaa had told him that Madhusoodanan should be made the general secretary of the party after her demise.

With Madhusoodanan joining his camp, Panneerselvam declared that he would take steps to declare Veda Nilayam (Jayalalithaa’s house) a national museum in honour of the late chief minister.

The switching over of Madhusoodanan to Panneerselvam camp literally shocked the Sasikala camp as it was the former who had presided over the general council meeting of the party held on December 29, 2016, which elected Sasikala as the interim general secretary.

Panneerselvam has been hand-picked by Honourable Amma (Jayalalithaa) as the chief minister of the State. We should stand by him. He is a loyalist and trusted worker of the AIADMK since the inception of the party. We should never allow outsiders to hijack the party,” said Madhusoodanan speaking to reporters.

With Madhusoodanan joining his camp, Panneerselvam declared that he would take steps to declare Veda Nilayam (Jayalalithaa’s house) a national museum in honour of the late chief minister. Much to the embarrassment of Sasikala, the chief minister read out a letter she released to the media in March 2012 following her readmission in Veda Nilayam from where Jayalalithaa had ousted her and her family members following reports about a palace coup being plotted by the Mannargudi clan.

Sasikala’s letter of apology to Jayalalithaa

“Jayalalithaa had thrown out Sasikala and all members of her family from Veda Nilayam as well as the AIADMK in December 2011. In a letter to the cadre, she had asked all party members not to have any kind of contacts with the Mannargudi clan,” said Panneerselvam. He said Sasikala was readmitted to Veda Nilayam in March 2012 after she fell at the feet of Jayalalithaa and issued a public apology.

“In her public apology she had expressed her unflinching loyalty to Amma and declared that she would never take up any post in the party or in the government,” said the chief minister who also read the public apology tendered by Sasikala.

“Not even in my wildest dreams, I have thought of betraying ‘akka’ (as she addressed Jayalalithaa). For 24 years, I have been living under the same roof. I have no ambitions either in the party or in the government. I have always devoted my life to ‘akka’ and the rest of my life will be to serve her ,” Sasikala had written in the letter.

“Only after coming out of Poes Garden, I became aware of the machinations of my relatives who have misused my proximity and brought disrepute to akka and the party. I have no role whatsoever in that. Hereafter, any relative, whosoever it might be, who had conspired against akka, will remain a persona non-grata for me as well,” she had said in her letter which was published prominently in all newspapers and channels. Panneerselvam reading out the letter has come as a shock to Sasikala and family who were under the impression that the public would have forgotten the chapter.

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