VK Sasikala, general secretary of southern Tamil Nadu state's ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK), December 31, 2016. Photograph: (Getty)
Sasikala blamed Panneerselvam for creating a rift within the party and asked workers to ensure that Jayalalithaa's party endures
Launching a scathing attack on acting Chief Minster O Panneerselvam, All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) general secretary VK Sasikala on Sunday blamed the former of trying to create a rift within the party and asked the workers to ensure that the government formed under later chief minister Jayalalithaa is kept alive.
In an emotional address to the party MLAs at Golden Bay resort, Sasikala said, "Our only goal is to ensure that Amma's government should be kept alive. We have to ensure that for the third time running our government will come into power. I will work hard, I want you to work hard too".
Speaking about the comparisons made between Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and her, Sasikala said that the former is a quiet person and she is like a 'little lion".
"People are comparing Panneerselvam and me. They feel that he's a quiet person, who listens to everyone, and on the other hand, look at me like a little lion. Because I was always with the lion. Everyone who is with the lion is a lion," Sasikala said. "I will protect this party and this government till my dying breadth," she added.
Asking all the party cadres to remain united, Sasikala said, "You must all stay united. We must not let this chance go. We must not let the DMK win."
Sasikala also refuted allegations that she has held several party MLAs captive, to prevent them from joining Panneerselvam's camp and said that the defectors, along with the opposition, are spreading lies to split the party.
"You can see for yourselves that no one has been locked up. You should see this and understand that the people who said MLAs are being locked up are lies. Some defectors and as well as our enemies are spreading false rumours to the media," Sasikala said.
Earlier today, Sasikala said that the AIADMK, under her leadership, would run the government for next four-and-half years.
Before heading to Koovathur to meet MLAs, Sasikala said she is being targeted by the opposition in the party for being a woman.
"Things which are happening now are not new to us. There were attempts in past also, to divide the party. When MGR died, the AIADMK had to face similar situation. I witnessed a similar situation when Jayalalithaa was set to take over," she said, adding, "It shows that there are some people, who cannot tolerate a lady's entry in electoral politics."
Meanwhile, the number of AIADMK MPs joining Panneerselvam's group is increasing day-by-day. Panneerselvam has the support of the seven MLAs as of now. If he gets the support of 18 MLAs, Sasikala will not be able to form the government on her own.
In the 235-member Tamil Nadu Assembly, the AIADMK has 135 MLAs.
On February 5, AIADMK general secretary VK Sasikala was elected as the party's legislature leader, a step towards her elevation as chief minister of Tamil Nadu.
Earlier, both sides called on the Governor, pressing their demand to invite them to form the government.