After 40 minutes of silence at Jaya memorial, O Panneerselvam shatters Sasikala’s peace

CHENNAI: After appearing to be a willing pawn in the hands of V K Sasikala ever since J Jayalalithaa’s death on December 5+ , Tamil Nadu caretaker chief minister O Panneerselvam shocked everyone on Tuesday night, accusing Sasikala and senior party leaders of “forcing” him to resign as the chief minister+ .

The surprise development triggered questions over Sasikala’s proposed swearing-in+ and murmurs on the possibility of President’s rule in the state. After Panneerselvam said he would withdraw his resignation if party cadres so wished, several ministers rushed to Poes Garden, some concerned about a split in the party. DMK leader M K Stalin urged the governor to ensure a “valid government.”

OPS chose former chief minister J Jayalalithaa’s resting place on Marina beach as the stage for his dramatic outpouring. Around 9pm, he walked in with minimal security and sat in meditation. After 40 minutes, he woke up with a vow to “fight it out all alone to save the glory of the party”.

He said his cabinet colleagues R B Udhaya Kumar and Sellur K Raju, and party leader K A Sengottaiyan insulted him and demanded that Sasikala should be made CM. “I was forced to convene a meeting of party MLAs on Sunday, but was kept in the dark that it was meant for electing Sasikala as the legislature party leader,” he said.When he asked why the hurry, he was threatened with disciplinary action. “When I sought permission to visit Amma’s memorial, I was told that I could do it later,” said Panneerselvam.


Then and there he was forced to put in his papers, he said. Some party leaders, who rushed to Poes Garden, said the governor was acting on the Centre’s directives. “Given that verdict in disproportionate assets case is expected in a week’s time, we suspect the Centre is behind the move,” said a senior minister.

┬áSources said governor must have consulted legal experts who felt it would be better for Sasikala to wait till the SC verdict. Some party leaders believe OPS has the backing of the BJP government at the Centre. “No wonder that M Natarajan, Sasikala’s husband, had recently accused the Modi government of making an attempt to destabilise the government and saffronise the state.

This suspicion was further fuelled by Modi’s decision to meet only OPS and not the AIADMK MPs who sought his appointment over the jallikattu ordinance+ ,” said an MP. Lok Sabha deputy speaker M Thambidurai had criticised the PM for not giving an audience.