Tamil Nadu's Game of Thrones: Sasikala, Pannerselvam meet governor over political tussle
AIADMK general secretary Sasikala met the Tamil Nadu governor at the Governor's House, Raj Bhavan in Chennai on Thursday. Photograph: (AFP)
VK Sasikala, the general secretary of Tamil Nadu's ruling party, AIADMK, staked her claim to be the state's chief minister before Governor C. Vidyasagar Rao today, her party said. She was accompanied by five senior leaders of the AIADMK.
The aide of former chief minister Jayalalithaa is involved in a power struggle between her and incumbent chief minister O Panneerselvam for the post of chief minister.
The governor, who arrived in the Southern Indian state in the afternoon, is expected to take a decision on power tussle today itself, sources said.
Sasikala, who took over as AIADMK general secretary after Jayalalithaa's death in December, has the support of about 130 of the party's 135 legislators, most of whom are currently lodged in a resort in Chennai.
She earlier visited the memorial of Jayalalithaa, accompanied by hundreds of supporters, including some senior ministers, prior to her meeting with Vidyasagar Rao.
O Panneerselvam, who was the first to meet the governor, said he had briefed him about the political developments in the state.
"I briefed the governor about the political developments in the state. I want to stress that dharma (righteousness) will win," Panneerselvam told the press soon after the meeting.
He also claimed several AIADMK legislators have promised to join him to prevent Sasikala from taking over as chief minister. He said Sasikala had "betrayed" Jayalalithaa and was using "dirty tricks" to acquire the chief minister's chair.
Panneerselvam cited the example of top AIADMK leader E Madusudanan who crossed sides today, saying he wanted to "safeguard" the party. "Madusudanan has come here to lead the struggle," the incumbent chief minister said.
"People do not like Sasikala," Madusudanan, who is considered the No. 2 in the AIADMK said.
"Only to seek pardon (for associating with Sasikala), I have come to the side of Panneerselvam," he added.
AIADMK legislator V Maithreyan hailed Panneerselvam as Jayalalithaa's successor and said what began as a "silent meditation" had now led to an uprising.
Tamil Nadu Education Minister K Pandiarajan told ANI that the legislators of the Sasikala camp had been staying at their convenience at hotels and had "not been forced or compelled to do anything." He also claimed a letter of support of 135 MLAs including Paneerselvam.
MLAs have been staying at their convenience at hotels etc, they have not been forced or compelled to do anything: TN Education Minister pic.twitter.com/QTwCzREHbX— ANI (@ANI_news) February 9, 2017
Home minister Rajnath Singh has clarified that the federal government will not interfere in the political crisis in the state since it was the internal matter of the AIADMK.
"Current political scenario in Tamil Nadu is AIADMK's internal matter, Govt has nothing to do with it," Rajnath Singh told ANI.
Earlier in the day, Sasikala sacked former Puducherry MLA Om Sakthi Sekar from the AIADMK.
Meanwhile, AIADMK MPs are in the national capital to knock at the door of President Pranab Mukherjee in order to seek his intervention for bringing political stability in the state.
On Thursday, the Tamil Nadu government also revoked the suspension of former Tamil Nadu chief secretary Ganadesikan.
Panneerselvam submitted his resignation to the governor earlier on Sunday. His resignation was accepted by the governor, who had asked him to continue till the necessary arrangements were made.
Panneerselvam later said he was forced to resign from the chief minister post by the Sasikala camp, an allegation that was later denied by the AIADMK general secretary.
(WION with inputs from agencies)