Panneerselvam revolts, says was forced to resign

Sasikala removes him as treasurer

Panneerselvam revolts, says was forced to resign
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O Panneerselvam on Tuesday night dropped a bombshell, saying he was forced to resign on Sunday night to make way for V K Sasikala.

The rift within the AIADMK seems to have deepened with Sasikala sacking Panneerselvam as party treasurer late in the night.

He hinted that he may withdraw his resignation if people of the state and the party cadres  so decided.

“I was pushed into a delicate situation by Sasikala and other senior party members, including several ministers to resign from my post,” he said.

Earlier in the day, senior AIADMK leader and former speaker of the state Assembly P H Pandian had revolted against Sasikala. Uncertainty already existed over the date of Sasikala’s swearing-in.

Then, Panneerselvam made an unexpected visit to Jayalalithaa’s ‘samadhi’ and sat in meditation for about 40 minutes, creating a flutter in political circles. Later, talking to journalists, he narrated how attempts were made to force him to allow Sasikala’s elevation as chief minister.

Panneerselvam said his main job after Jayalalithaa’s death was to protect the image of the party and the government as left by the late chief minister, but attempts were made to “sabotage” his endeavours. Last Sunday, he said, he was called to the Poes Garden residence of Jayalalithaa, which is occupied by Sasikala, where senior party leaders, MLAs, ministers and members of her family were present.

“I was called to the meeting about which I did not even know. I went to Chinnamma (Sasikala) and they asked me to resign. They said I should resign to make Sasikala the chief minister. They said both the positions of party general secretary and the CM should be with one person,” he said.

“For two hours they tried to convince me. But I asked them whether it is fair to ask me to resign after having elected me the leader of the AIADMK legislature party which I did not want in the first place. Still, I tolerated all the insult”.

Panneerselvam said he wanted to go to Jayalalithaa’s ‘samadhi’ to “vent everything that was in my mind” but was not allowed.

“At that stage, they forced me, saying you should follow party discipline. I resigned because I was forced to,” he said.

“I want a CM who will protect the people of the state and the state, even if it is not OPS. But he should protect the image of the government that Jaya provided us,” he said.

When asked if he could withdraw his resignation, Panneerselvam said,”Yes, if people of the state, and party cadres desire so, I will do it.”

“I am even prepared to launch a lone battle for this, especially for the welfare of the party,” Panneerselvam said.

He also hinted that his recent performance, including during cyclone "Vardah" and restoring  Jallikattu did not go down well with rivals in the party.

‘Insulted’

He said he was insulted by many ministers several times who wanted him to give way for Sasikala. “I did not tell anything that was happening to me all these days since it would damage the party’s  image,” said.

 AIADMK sources said Panneerselvam now has to explain to the party why he spoke to the media without Sasikala’s consent.

“Speaking about party grievances without the consent of the general secretary is violation of the rules. Therefore, Panneerselvam will face disciplinary action from the party high command," a senior AIADMK leader said.

Support for Sasikala

The leader maintained that since Sasikala had the support of all MLAs no one could prevent her from becoming chief minister.

The party high command has asked all the AIADMK senior ministers and party functionaries to assemble at Sasikala's home on Wednesday morning.

Panneerselvam said the late chief minister’s soul pushed him to say something which was why he was presenting himself before journalists.

He said when Jayalalithaa was in Apollo hospital Sasikala had a discussion with him on how to run the party and the government if something untoward happened to the CM.

Panneerselvam said he was distressed and asked her what was the need to discuss these issues.

Sasikala, in fact, wanted party senior Madhusudhan as general secretary to which Panneerselvam was not agreeable, according to him.

He said all senior ministers told him that Sasikala should be made general secretary, a post to which she was later elected by the party’s general council. Meanwhile, AIADMK general secretary Sasikala chaired an emergency meeting at her Poes Garden residence soon after Panneerselvam's revolt against her.
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