COIMBATORE: Sidelined AIADMK Deputy General Secretary T T V Dinakaran today claimed he could have become the chief minister immediately after the demise of J Jayalalithaa.
"However, I did not desire to become CM...AIADMK General Secretary V K Sasikala chose O Paneerselvam to continue the AIADMK rule," he told reporters at Avanashi in Tirupur district. Even Sasikala could have chosen to become chief minister, after becoming the party general secretary, but decided against it and instead chose Paneerselvam, he said.
At that time, all ministers and the chief minister had wanted her to take over the reins, but had now turned against her, the sidelined leader said. Stating that Chief Minister K Palaniswamy had sought votes for him in the run up to the R K Nagar bypoll, Dhinakaran said the Palaniswami and O Panneerselvam camps had come together with "selfish interests" to oppose Sasikala.
After the merger of the rival factions on August 21, the party said that steps would be taken to expel her. Panneerselvam was also made the deputy chief minister. Sasikala, Dhinakaran's aunt, is serving a prison term at a Bengaluru jail following her conviction in a disproportionate assets case. Dhinakaran had termed the merger as a "betrayal" of Sasikala.
The Dhinakaran camp hit back on August 22, with 19 MLAs loyal to him meeting the governor and saying they no longer had confidence in Chief Minister K Palaniswami, prompting the opposition DMK to demand a trust vote. The MLAs backing Dhinakaran later proceeded to a resort in neighbouring Puducherry.
On August 23, Dhinakaran sought to assert his authority, axing four ministers from party posts while the MLAs loyal to him stayed put in the resort. He also appointed a number of his supporters to various other posts, besides expanding the office-bearers list.
All this were done with the "approval" of Sasikala, he said. To this, Palaniswami said at a government function at Ariyalur on August 23, where he shared the dais with Panneerselvam, that unity was the need of the hour to take the party and AIADMK government forward. The Dhinakaran camp received a shot in the arm yesterday when AIADMK MLA from Vriddhachalam, T Kalaiselvan, met and extended support to him, taking the number of legislators backing him to 21.