Tamil Nadu’s ruling AIADMK party sacked O Panneerselvam as its treasurer late on Tuesday night, hours after he alleged that he was forced to resign as chief minister and support party general secretary, VK Sasikala, for the post.
Amid the growing uncertainty over Sasikala being sworn in as chief minister following Panneerselvam’s resignation, his allegations that it wasn’t voluntary have thickened the plot.
Sasikala was swift in her response, and sacked Panneerselvam from the top party post after convening an emergency meeting with the party’s cabinet ministers and leaders at Poes Garden, her official residence.
She replaced him with Dindigul C Srinivasan, the state forest minister who is considered number two in the hierarchy in the council of ministers.
In a brief statement, Sasikala said, “O Panneerselvam is being relieved from the post of AIADMK treasurer and Dindigul C Srinivasan is appointed to that post. Party cadres should extend their full cooperation to Srinivasan.”
Speaking to party supporters gathered there, she refuted the allegations, saying, “I did not force Pannerselvam for anything, what he is saying is not correct,” and went on to blame the DMK for orchestrating it. The DMK’s working president MK Stalin and Panneerselvam are known to share a cordial relationship.
“In recent assembly session, opposition leader (Stalin) and Pannerselvam exchanged warmth, they were smiling at each other,” ANI quoted her as saying.
‘Chinamma’ Sasikala also said Panneerselvam would be removed from all party positions, and even be stripped of his membership.
Meanwhile, supporters thronged the official residence of chief minister Panneerselvam after he returned from Marina beach where, earlier in the night, he made the shocking statements.
In a surprise visit to the memorial of former chief minister and his mentor J Jayalalithaa on the beach, Paneerselvam spent about half an hour in apparent mediation before claiming that ‘Amma’s’ spirit had spoken to him. He later addressed the media, saying he wanted to “clear his conscience” and “reveal certain truths”.
Saying that ‘Amma’ Jayalalithaa had wished for him to be the chief minister and entrusted the care of the state to him, he offered to withdraw his resignation if the people of Tamil Nadu wanted it.
“For the future of Tamil Nadu, the CM should be someone who has the support of the people,” he said.
Responding to Sasikala’s actions and counter allegations, ANI reported him saying, “Looking at opposition leader and smiling at them isn’t a crime. I have carried forward the post of treasurer which was entrusted upon me by Amma and I think no one can take it away from me.”
Panneerselvam was made chief minister twice in Jayalalithaa’s stead when she was forced to step down over legal troubles. He took over for a third time in December after Jayalalithaa passed away due to ill-health.
Party sources said that Panneerselvam will soon come out with a comprehensive plan of action that he will pursue.