In a major turns of events in OPS vs Sasikala in Tamil Nadu, the legislature party meeting convened by V K Sasikala was attended by at least 120 AIADMK MLAs out of a total of 134. Her faction said 129 MLAs appeared in the meeting, while Five MLAs including former minister S P Shanmuganathan publicly cast their lot with OPS.
A large number of ministers including MGR acolyte P H Pandian, former minister K P Munusamy, and Rajya Sabha MP V Maitreyan rooted for Sasi. To retain her group together following the meeting, Sasikala shifted the ministers and the MLAs to a couple of Chennai hotels. Notably, many of them were out of cell phone reach.
On Wednesday, party office-bearers gathered in power at the Lloyds Road AIADMK office. Sasikala supporters, noticeably annoyed, took turns to condemn OPS at the office. “We are steadfast on making Chinnamma the chief minister of the state,” said Rajenthra Bhalaji, dairy development minister as per a report in TOI.
It was Panneerselvam who suggested the name of Sasikala for the post of legislature party leader, said TN assembly deputy speaker Pollachi Jayaraman. “MGR’s heir was Amma and Amma’s heir is Chinnamma,” Jayaraman added.
On the other hand, at his home a few kilometres away, OPS was hopeful, telling that numerous legislators have been in touch with him over phone. MLAs S P Shanmuganathan (Srivaikundam), K Manickam (Sholavandan), V C Arukutty (Kavundampalayam), Manoranjitham (Uthangarai) and A Manoharan (Vasudevanallur) made public their position by visiting OPS.
“People of TN voted for Amma. After OPS made a statement in Marina, the groundswell of support from the grassroot cadres and public at large is overwhelmingly in support of OPS,” Maitreyan told TOI.
Party officials have been getting calls from both the factions, soliciting their support. “I went to the party office since I got a call from Sasikala’s side. But I feel only OPS can carry forward Amma’s legacy,” said Aspire K Swaminathan, former I-T wing secretary of the party.
There was no question over who can succeed Amma, said Madurai North MLA V V Rajan Chellappa. “It is only Chinnamma.”In Periyakulam, Paneerselvam’s hometown, locals tore the photographs of Sasikala, and said the moment had come to vent their anger.
In the meantime, Panneerselvam on Wednesday ordered probe into the death of his mentor J Jayalalithaa. The move intensified a high-stakes rebellion against Sasikala whose potential elevation to the top post has ignited a political crisis in the state.