Chennai: The VK Sasikala versus O Panneerselvam duel in the ruling AIADMK for the post of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister has seen bitter words traded publicly by the two leaders as they await the Governor's decision on who will get a chance first to prove majority support of party legislators on the floor of the state assembly.
- Interim Chief Minister O Panneerselvam takes a dig at VK Sasikala
- Governor to decide on who gets the first chance to prove majority
- Both leaders have laid claim to the Chief Minister's post
"There are many people who worked in Amma's house. Will all of them become Amma? The people of Tamil Nadu will never accept this," said interim Chief Minister O Panneerselvam today in a harsh critique of Ms Sasikala, who lived for three decades with former Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa or "Amma", as her closest companion.
Ms Sasikala, who was made the AIADMK's general secretary soon after Ms Jayalalithaa's death, has not been kind to Mr Panneerselvam, either describing him as a "traitor" and "betrayer" as she has accused him of colluding with the opposition DMK to split the AIADMK. Addressing party workers at the Poes Garden residence where she lived with J Jayalalithaa for many years, Ms Sasikala said today, "We have seen 1,000 such 'Panneerselvams'. For the past 33 years, we both have seen everything. So I am not afraid."
Both Ms Sasikala and Mr Panneerselvam have invoked Ms Jayalalithaa repeatedly as they have laid claim to her legacy and the chief minister's post that she was re-elected to last year. Mr Panneerselvam was twice picked by Ms Jayalalithaa to step in for her as chief minister when she had to resign over corruption cases. When he took oath a third time, hours after Ms Jayalalithaa died on December 5 last year, it was reportedly at the instruction of Ms Sasikala as she swiftly took control.
Today, Ms Sasikala said Mr Panneerselvam had urged her to take charge of the party and the Tamil Nadu government after Ms Jayalalithaa died, but that she was in too much "pain".
Last week, Mr Panneerselvam had, at a party meeting, resigned as chief minister and proposed Ms Sasikala's name for the top post. Two days later, he did a U-turn and said he had been forced to resign.
Both have met the state's Governor and sought a chance to form government and prove through a trust vote that they have majority support in the party. Ms Sasikala said today that she must immediately be given that opportunity as she commands the loyalty of most of the AIADMK's 134 legislators.