Chennai: In an apparent bid to register authority, acting Chief Minister O Panneerselvamattended office at the Tamil Nadu secretariat on Monday.
Panneerselvam, who wished Governor C Vidyasagar Rao a happy birthday, attended office after a week’s gap. He had resigned on February 5 and paved the way for former CM J Jayalalithaa’s longtime confidante VK Sasikala to take over the reins of the government,
School Education Minister K Pandiarajan will also be attending office, reports said.
However, he revolted against her on Feb 7, alleging that he was forced to resign as CM. Later when he met the Governor, Panneerselvam has said that he will take back his resignation if party cadre and the people of the state ask him to do so.
On the other hand, the Governor is playing a wait-and-watch game amid intense pressure from the Sasikala urging him to “go by the constitution and swear her in as the next CM as most of the MLAs are backing her candidature.”
But Panneerselvam – who is witnessing a steady stream of AIADMK leaders joining his cause – has been asserting that 127 MLAs are being held captive by Sasikala at a resort on the outskirts of Chennai.
The acting CM said that “if they are set free and decide on their own” they will support him in the assembly.
As of now, Panneerselvam enjoys the support of 11 MP and 7 MLAs, besides a host of senior party leader including former party presidium chairman E Madhusudhanan.
He said that not once in his two-decade long association with the party had ‘Amma’ criticised him while on the other hand Sasikala was twice thrown out of the party.
The Sasikala camp has alleged that the Governor is delaying the swearing-in to give time to Panneerslevam to engineer a split in the party.
In an emotional appeal to party leaders, especially MLAs, she invoked the legacy of Jayalalithaa to drive home the point of staying united and ensure more electoral victories in the future.
She said the legislators supporting her were like an “ocean”. “You 129 MLAs are like an ocean. None can contain it by building a check dam. No efforts will destabilise this government. None can hurt us and there is no need to fear,” she said.
Sasikala had earlier observed that it was “very difficult” to be a woman in politics, said there were efforts to “intimidate” her as she was a woman, but asserted that she would not be cowed down
The apex court is likely to take up for hearing a petition against seeking a stay on Sasikala’s swearing-in until the court gives its verdict in disproportionate assets case against her. While Sasikala and former CM Jayalalithaa were convicted by the trial court, they were acquitted by the Karnataka High Court.