More MPs back Panneerselvam as Sasikala struggles to keep MLAs together

World Sunday 12/February/2017 20:21 PM
By: Times News Service
More MPs back Panneerselvam as Sasikala struggles to keep MLAs together

Chennai: Support grew on Sunday for Tamil Nadu's caretaker chief minister O. Panneerselvam, locked in a bruising feud with AIADMK supremo V. K. Sasikala for power, with five more MPs crossing over to his camp. Four Lok Sabha MPs -- Jaisingh Thiyagaraj Natterjee (Tuticorin), Senguttuvan (Vellore), R. P. Marutharaja (Perambalur) and S. Rajendran (Villupuram) met Panneerselvam at his Greenways residence this morning and pledged support to him, taking the number of MPs backing him in the fight to 10.
Rajya Sabha MP R. Lakshmanan also switched over to the Panneerselvam camp, provoking an embattled Sasikala to sack him as the party's Villupuram (North) district chief. Amid continued uncertainty over her swearing-in and struggling to keep her flock together as desertion by the MPs went on, Sasikala met AIADMK MLAs housed at a resort on Chennai's outskirts for the second successive day.
Before heading for the resort, Sasikala told journalists outside the Poes Garden residence of her mentor and former chief minister, the late J. Jayalalithaa, it was "very difficult" to be a woman in politics. Sasikala also displayed a copy of a 'fake letter' allegedly sent by her to Governor C. Vidyasagar Rao threatening to commit suicide if she was not allowed to form the government.
"A fake letter in my name is doing the rounds in social media and a friend brought it to my notice. You (media) should also see it. It is very difficult for a woman to be in politics. Have seen that during Purathchi Thalaivi's (revolutionary leader, a term fondly used by Jayalalithaa's supporters to address her) times also, but she overcame it," Sasikala said. The AIADMK general secretary said she had seen such a "flutter" earlier happen in All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam(AIADMK) following the death of its founder the late M. G. Ramachandran, but Jayalalithaa steered the party tactfully and even ensured it won a successive term in last year's polls.
"Since then, there have been efforts to split the party. Those who made such efforts then are doing it today also," she said, in an apparent reference to her nemesis Panneerselvam, who was then a member of the faction led by Janaki, Ramachandran widow.
AIADMK was then divided into Janaki and Jayalalithaa factions. Sasikala claimed she had the support of the party MLAs. "The MLAs are with me. Today (Sunday) also I am going to meet them. As General Secretary, I can tell you that the AIADMK government will certainly continue for the next four-and-a- half years and serve people," she said. On the 'delay' by Governor Rao in inviting her to form the government and the MPs crossing over to the Panneerselvam camp, she said, "You very well know the reason".
Meanwhile, BJP MP Subramanian Swamy, who has been batting for Sasikala to be sworn in as chief minister, injected a new twist to the lingering political drama being played out in the state, saying Governor Rao had to make a decision by tomorrow or a case "can be filed charging abetment of horse trading".
"The Tamil Nadu governor must decide CM issue by tomorrow otherwise a WP (writ petition) under Art 32 of the Constitution can be filed charging abetment of horse trading," Swamy said on twitter. However, the BJP's state unit sought to distance itself from Swamy, saying he has taken a "different path". "I would like to make it clear that it is not the path of Tamil Nadu BJP," the party's state president Tamilisai Sounderrrajan said.