This Article is From Dec 19, 2016

Bharat Ratna For Amma, Says Panneerselvam. Silence On Sasikala Natarajan

AIADMK leaders want Jayalalithaa's closest friend Sasikala Natarajan (in pic) to become chief minister


  • This is O Panneerselvam first official meet with PM Narendra Modi
  • He would ask for Jayalalithaa's statue to be installed at parliament
  • AIADMK leaders have urged Ms Natarajan to take over as Chief Minister
New Delhi: Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O Panneerselvam called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi today, in his first official meeting in Delhi since his mentor J Jayalalithaa died earlier this month.

On the agenda was 22,500 crores for cyclone relief in his state, but while speaking to reporters later, Mr Panneerselvam devoted equal space to the two other demands that he carried to PM Modi - India's highest civilian award Bharat Ratna for Jayalalithaa and her bronze statue at parliament.

"Amma has served the country for 32 years and she deserves the Bharat Ratna," said the Jayalalithaa loyalist who kept her picture on the dais as he took oath as chief minister, hours after her death on December 5.
But Mr Panneerselvam walked off without a word when asked about Ms Jayalalithaa's closest friend Sasikala Natarajan, who has been urged to take over his job by a group of party leaders.

Ms Natarajan, who performed her last rites, was last week asked by Mr Panneerselvam and Lok Sabha Deputy Speaker M Thambidurai to become AIADMK general secretary.

On Sunday, three ministers - RB Udhayakumar, Kadambur Raju and Sevoor S Ramachandran - were among the AIADMK leaders who said Ms Natarajan should take over as Chief Minister too;  Jayalalithaa held both posts till she died.

"We want to elect Sasikala unanimously. The Chief Minister seeking directions from party president would lead to criticism. We've always had the same person as party president and chief minister," said Mr Udhayakumar today.

Mr Udhayakumar is a part of the Jayalalithaa Peravai, a party forum that passed a resolution asking Ms Natarajan to contest from RK Nagar constituency in Chennai - represented by Ms Jayalalithaa - to prep for a government role. The resolution titled "Thai Thanta Varam (Sasikala is a boon granted by Amma)" was given to Ms Natarajan at the Poes Garden home that she shared with Ms Jayalalithaa.

Though many leaders see Ms Natarajan as the only unifying face for a grieving and shaken party, a section believes the show of support is a set-up by the 60-year-old former video store owner, who faces land scam allegations.