An AIADMK legislator made a dramatic appearance at the residence of acting chief minister O Panneerselvam on Monday, claiming to have scaled a wall to escape from a luxury resort where party legislators are allegedly held captive by party chief VK Sasikala.
The MLA from South Madurai, SS Sarvanan, said “all MLAs” were ready to join Panneerselvam, who has challenged Sasikala’s claim to the top post after putting in his papers to facilitate her elevation.
“I disguised myself, changed my get-up, scaled the wall, jumped and escaped,” Sarvanan told journalists amid loud cheers from Panneerselvam’s supporters.
Sarvanan’s claim was in contrast to the Sasikala’s assertion that all the MLAs – now there are 118 – at the Golden Bay Resort were there on their own. The MLAs were taken to the resort on Wednesday, a day after Panneerselvam revolted against her.
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Earlier during the day, also police told Madras high court that the MLAs were in the resort “on their own free will”.
Sasikala’s supporters have barred entry of journalists to the resort and were said to have confiscated mobile phones of all the MLAs.
“It is not just me, all the MLAs will come here only,” said Sarvanan, struggling to be heard over the deafening noise of OPS supporters welcoming him.
He told media persons that he feared that if he did not escape now, “I will be caged forever under Sasikala.”
Sasikala visited resort on Monday, her third visit in as many days as she sought to keep her flock intact a day ahead of a crucial Supreme Court verdict in a corruption case in which she is an accused along with former chief minister J Jayalalithaa and two others.
Conviction in the case will scuttle Sasikala’s chances of becoming the chief minister.
With the joining of Sarvanan, Panneerselvam’s camp now has eight MLAs and 12 MPs.
Sasikala had earlier claimed the support of 134 legislators but is now left with 125.