Met TTV last year, admits Panneerselvam

Met TTV last year, admits Panneerselvam

OPS wants to destabilise EPS govt, says Dhinakaran

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister K Palaniswami and Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam. PTI File Photo

At the height of his "dharmayudham" against the V K Sasikala family's control over the AIADMK, Tamil Nadu Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam held a "secret meeting" with her nephew T T V Dhinakaran in July 2017 while spitting venom against the aunt-nephew duo in the public.

Panneerselvam's admission on Friday that he met Dhinakaran in July last year is quite a revelation as he rebelled against Sasikala after he was forced to resign as chief minister in February the same year and launched a "dharmayudham" to redeem the AIADMK from the family.

The deputy chief minister was forced to talk about the meeting after Dhinakaran came out in the public and challenged him to deny having held talks at the house of a common friend.

Panneerselvam's explanation that he met Dhinakaran "only to prevent" the government installed by late J Jayalalithaa from falling was not convincing.

Friday witnessed hectic political activity in Tamil Nadu with Dhinakaran levelling charges against Panneerselvam, who responded in length, and Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami meeting the governor.

This meeting was preceded by Union Minister Pon Radhakrishnan holding deliberations with both the governor and Palaniswami separately.

"I met T T V Dhinakaran at a common friend's place in July 2017 after so many requests from the other side. Meeting Dhinakaran is not a heinous crime like murder," Panneerselvam told a crowded press conference here.

"I did not even discuss the meeting with my colleagues. Only after the meeting did I realise that Dhinakaran was hell-bent on destabilising this government. The merger of my faction with the one led by EPS happened the next month," he said.

Through the 30-minute interaction with the media, the deputy chief minister took pains to respond to Dhinakaran's claim that he sought the latter's help to destabilise the government led by chief minister Edappadi K Palaniswami.

"Why would I want to destabilise this government, especially when I am part of this administration? I will never try to become the chief minister through the back door and I was never interested in joining the government after Amma’s (Jayalalithaa’s death). I am only interested in strengthening the party," Panneerselvam said.

Panneerselvam was responding to Dhinakaran's claims that he approached the latter through a friend last week seeking help to "dislodge" the EPS government.

Dhinakaran also claimed that the friend told him that Panneerselvam was even ready to make him the chief minister.

Dhinakaran’s bombshell of claims have just brought out in the open what was being shared as whispers within the AIADMK and political circles — OPS wants to push aside EPS and sit in the chief minister’s chair.

Panneerselvam, who was forced into being Palaniswami's deputy at the insistence of the BJP, is not too happy with his being sidelined within the party and has been airing his grievances to his close aides and colleagues.

Dhinakaran's claims and Panneerselvam's response came as speculation is rife that the verdict in the 18 MLAs disqualification case might be delivered anytime.

Earlier in the day, Dhinakaran claimed that as late as last week, Panneerselvam had approached a common friend seeking to fix an appointment with him.

“Panneerselvam had told the friend that he was ready to ditch Edappadi K Palaniswami and make Dhinakaran the Chief Minister. I told my friend that I was not interested in meeting Panneerselvam. I am making this public only to expose the double face of Panneerselvam,” Dhinakaran said.