CHENNAI: AIADMK general secretary VK Sasikala left for the resort in Kuvathoor outside Chennai to meet party MLAs on Sunday evening, in hopes of achieving a breakthrough in her quest to capture power in Tamil Nadu.
The visit, a second in as many days, came on a day when five more MPs landed at chief minister O Panneerselvam’s residence in Chennai to join the rebel rank.
On Sunday morning, four Lok Sabha members - Jaisingh Thiyagaraj Natterjee (Thoothukudi), B Senguttuvan (Vellore), RP Marutharaja (Perambalur) and S Rajendran (Villupuram) – and Rajya Sabha member R Lakshmanan had joined Panneerselvam.
Panneerselvam has seven MLAs with him along with the support of ten MPs (eight Lok Sabha and two Rajya Sabha). Insiders from Panneerselvam camp claim they will eventually win over as many as 45 out of the total 50 AIADMK members in both houses of the Parliament.
“My support is reflective of the people's choice, a collective decision that was taken on basis of self-respect. The post of the chief minister is won by winning people’s affection, as OPS has done,” said Lakshmanan.
Joining him in addressing the gathering, Rajendran said he, like others, faced questions in their districts about who among Panneerselvam and Sasikala they supported. “The people told us OPS is their choice,” said Rajendran.
There also are a large number of youngsters volunteering at the rebel HQ. However, they denied any political affiliation. They were there just to ensure Sasikala did not assume power, they said.
The faction backing Sasikala had warned of taking its displeasure to a different level if the governor delayed the decision any further.
“The governor has accepted Panneerselvam’s resignation and the MLAs of the party unanimously elected Sasikala as the legislature party leader. Now, the governor should invite her to form the next government,” said senior leader R Vaithilingam.
“We are waiting for his reply. If nothing comes by this evening, the general secretary will announce the next move, whether to approach the court or to agitate,” he added.