O Panneerselvam Revolts, Says Jayalalithaa Wanted Him To Be Chief Minister

Revolting against VK Sasikala, O Panneerselvam said Jayalalithaa wanted him as Tamil Nadu Chief Minister

Chennai: J Jayalalithaa had told him that he should be chief minister if "anything should happen to her," O Panneerselvam, who resigned as Tamil Nadu chief minister on Sunday to make way for AIADMK general secretary VK Sasikala, said on Tuesday. Mr Panneerselvam had headed late in the evening to the Jayalalithaa memorial at Chennai's Marina beach and sat alone with eyes closed in meditation for over half an hour before he spoke.

"I want to reveal some truths to the people of the country and members of the party, Amma's aatma (spirit) has urged me to do so," Mr Panneerselvam or OPS as he is known said, adding, "I came here because my conscience was pricking."

He claimed that while in hospital, "Amma held my hand and asked me to save the party." Ms Jayalalithaa, he said, wanted senior party leader Madhusudanan, head of the AIADMK presidium, to be AIADMK general secretary and he, Mr Panneerselvam, chief minister after her.

Mr Panneerselvam was sworn in as chief minister a few hours after Ms Jayalalithaa died at a Chennai hospital on December 5. Days later Ms Sasikala, Ms Jayalalithaa's long-time companion, took over as party general secretary and AIADMK leaders had been requesting her since to take charge as chief minister too.    

On Sunday, at a meeting of party legislators, Mr Panneerselvam proposed Ms Sasikala's name to lead them, confirming his status for a third time as a temporary chief minister. He played that role twice when J Jayalalithaa had to step down as chief minister over corruption charges, never using her room or chair.

Today, Mr Panneerselvam said he had been forced to resign and alleged that he had been humiliated by his own ministers in the two months that he has been in the post this time. "My own ministers were speaking against me. Why were my own ministers humiliating me, after choosing me?" he asked.  

He offered to withdraw his resignation if party cadres asked him to.

Mr Panneerselvam's revolt comes hours after veteran AIADMK leader and founder member PH Pandian made the stunning allegation that Ms Jayalalithaa's death was unnatural and demanded an investigation into "VK Sasikala's conduct," also strongly opposing her being picked to be the next chief minister.

The AIADMK has said that Ms Sasikala, who has never contested an election and was known only as Ms Jayalalithaa's "shadow" till the latter died, is likely to be sworn in as chief minister on Thursday.

When Ms Jayalalithaa was in hospital for 75 days before she died, the state governor had asked Mr Panneerselvam, as the most senior minister, to take charge of the eight ministries Ms Jayalalithaa handled personally and hold cabinet meetings. He reverentially placed a photograph of his leader before him at these meetings.