CHENNAI: As he walked into Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O Panneerselvam's arms with 'Amma' on his lips, AIADMK lawmaker K Pandiarajan declared that more legislators too would walk away from general secretary VK Sasikala who has been waiting for an invite from Raj Bhavan.
- VK Sasikala supporter K Pandiarajan moves to O Panneerselvam camp
- More legislators will walk away from VK Sasikala, says K Pandiarajan
- Invite all MLAs to join this fight, urged O Panneerselvam
One of the more vocal Sasikala loyalists till recently, the support from the state's School Education Minister came as a shot in the arm for Panneerselvam who, till yesterday appeared to have the support of just about 6 of the party's 134 legislators in the 235-member state assembly. On Saturday, two sitting AIADMK MPs PR Sundaram and K Ashok Kumar also joined hands with the Chief Minister who already has the backing of the party's Rajya Sabha MP Dr Maitreyan.
"All MLAs want AIADMK to be united. All will come here," he declared at the chief minister's residence, a message aimed as much at the Chief Minister's supporters as to an anxious Ms Sasikala who reminded Governor C Vidyasagar Rao that she had waited for seven days. With the minister by his side, and a broad smile on his face, Panneerselvam said, "Amma's soul has worked on Pandiarajan. I invite all the MLAs to join this fight" to ensure that the party does not fall into the hands of Sasikala and her family.
Panneerselvam had put in his papers on Sunday less than a month after he was sworn in to make space for Sasikala who was elected leader of the AIADMK legislature. But he had second thoughts and decided to bid for retaining power, an announcement that he made after meditating at Jayalalithaa's memorial at Marina Beach.
That announcement put him at a war with Sasikala, who been scaling up pressure on Governor C Vidyasagar Rao to invite her to take charge. Ms Sasikala - who has offered to parade the legislators before the Governor to back her claim - today suggested the party's patience was wearing thin.
The TN School Education Minister told NDTV that that correct course for the Governor would be to invite Panneerselvam, the Chief Minister.
"The place to test the majority is the portals of the legislative assembly and not the portals of Raj Bhavan. This has been repeatedly tested in many precedents ... I believe he (Governor) will do the right thing," Pandiarajan said, confident that support for Panneerselvam was turning into "a tsunami of support".
"As soon as the assembly gets convened, as soon as the judgement happens, there will be a sea change... What is a trickle today will be a torrent tomorrow," he said, a hint how an adverse decision in the Supreme Court appeal was playing on their mind.
This isn't the first time that Pandiarajan has switched sides. After flirting with the BJP more than a decade earlier, the XLRI alumnus made his electoral debut from actor Vijayakanth's DMDK in the 2011 assembly polls. He crossed over to the AIADMK before the 2016 state polls and was inducted into J Jayalalithaa's council of ministers in August last year. He represents Avadi, a suburb of Chennai, in the assembly.