Former TN Assembly Speaker P H Pandian passes away

Former TN Assembly Speaker P H Pandian passes away

Pandian, 74, breathed his last at around 8.30 am at a private hospital in Chennai

PH Pandian (TPML Photo)

Veteran AIADMK leader P H Pandian, one of the founding members of the ruling party known for his declaration that he had “sky-high powers” as Speaker of the Assembly, passed away here on Saturday.

Pandian, 74, breathed his last at around 8.30 am at a private hospital here where he was receiving treatment for various ailments. He is survived by his son P H Manoj Pandian, a former Rajya Sabha MP, and a daughter. The late leader was one of the first to openly rebel against V K Sasikala in February 2017 after J Jayalalithaa’s death.  

A close aide of the legendary M G Ramachandran since 1972 when the AIADMK was floated by the matinee idol, Pandian served as MLA of Cheranmahadevi from 1977 to 1989 and as Tirunelveli MP from 1999 to 2004.

After MGR’s death, Pandian sided with the late leader’s widow, Janaki, who attempted to take over the AIADMK, and had vehemently criticised J Jayalalithaa, who was also a claimant to MGR’s political legacy.

As Jayalalithaa gained control over the party, Pandian not just patched up with her but also gained her trust that he and his family members were rewarded with plum positions in the AIADMK.

One of the most prominent leaders of the AIADMK, Pandian was the Speaker of the Tamil Nadu Assembly from 1985 to 1989. Pandian shot into limelight when he as Speaker of the Assembly summoned Balasubramanian, then Editor of Tamil weekly Ananda Vikatan, to the House and asked him to apologise for a “derogatory” cartoon on lawmakers.

When Balasubramanian refused to apologise, Pandian sentenced him to three months in prison which was challenged by the magazine editor in the court. The court sent a notice to Pandian who not just refused to receive the summon but also claimed that he had “sky-high” powers as Speaker of the Assembly.

His proclamation was so dramatic that it was not just hit national headlines then, but politicians and experts keep referring to his comments whenever the Speaker’s powers are questioned.

After Jayalalithaa’s death in 2016, Pandian had accused her Sasikala, currently serving four-year imprisonment in disproportionate assets (DA) case, of pushing the late leader onto the floor during an argument before she was hospitalised. After accusing Sasikala, Pandian and his son Manoj joined the O Panneerselvam faction of the AIADMK.

Even as Pandian was a MP, his son Manoj was also given an AIADMK ticket in 2001, which he eventually won, making them the first father-son duo in the party to hold public posts. Later, Manoj was also made a Rajya Sabha member by Jayalalithaa but lost the 2019 Lok Sabha elections from Tirunelveli.

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