The political temperature in Tamil Nadu soared on Tuesday with a raft of wild charges adding to a growing chorus of opposition to stop Sasikala from being sworn in as chief minister.
Three senior AIADMK leaders, dismissed as disgruntled rebels by the party, sought a probe into circumstances leading to the death of J Jayalaithaa and insinuated that the former chief minister may have been murdered.
The growing opposition to Sasikala came amid reports from Mumbai that governor C Vidyasagar Rao could arrive in Chennai on Wednesday. Raj Bhavan in Chennai, however, said it had not received any schedule of the governor’s visit to Chennai so far.
An impending Supreme Court judgment in a disproportionate assets case against Sasikala is also hanging like the sword of Damocles over the CM-designate.
Meanwhile, the suspense over Sasikala’s swearing-in ceremony continued on Tuesday. The AIADMK had nothing to say about the schedule of the oath-taking ceremony, but officially, it maintained that it was waiting for a word from the governor and that it was ready.
“Everything in the party is fine and we are ready,” senior AIADMK leader Panruti Ramachandran said at a crowded press conference called to counter charges made by rebel AIADMK leaders.
Senior leaders Panruti Ramachandra and KN Sengottiyan said that once the governor came to Chennai, the party would call on him with all the MLAs and present the letters to him.
“We are hoping for a positive development,” Ramachandran said and dismissed all the allegations levelled by “disgruntled elements of the party who were sidelined even during the time of Madam Jayalalithaa.”
“Absolutely false allegations devoid of any truth,” Ramachandran said questioning their timing and intent. “They should have made these allegations inside the party forum if they were concerned. And besides, why did they wait for two months to come out with these wild charges now,” Ramachandran inquired.
But the grave charges levelled against Sasikala by former assembly speaker PH Pandian and his son and former MP, Manoj Pandian found resonance with another senior leader KC Palaniswamy who demanded a Supreme Court monitored probe into the circumstances leading to the death of the former chief minister.
The probe must be carried out by an outside, independent agency like the CBI, the former AIADMK MP Palaniswamy said.
Earlier, PH Pandian and his son Manoj Pandian sought a probe into Jayalaithaa’s death.
Independent of these demands, Jayalalithaa’s niece, Deepa Jayakumar too stuck to her old stand that a probe ought to be held into the treatment of her aunt in the hospital and her subsequent death. She, like the other rebel AIADMK leaders, dismissed the Apollo doctors panel clean chit to the treatment, saying that the timing of the press conference too was questionable.
“Why did the doctors wait for two months for this press conference, just before the reported elevation of Sasikala as chief minister?” she questioned. The exercise of the doctors, she said, in fact raised more questions than it answered and moreover “it is nothing but a staged show to facilitate a clean chit before Sasikala took over as chief minister.”
“It will be a sad day for Tamil Nadu,” Deepa said when asked how she viewed the imminent swearing in of Sasikala as the chief minister. She warned that she will be going to the people, who are against Sasikala.
It is exactly this point that former union finance minister and senior Congress leader P Chidambaran also underlined.
He said that he found a universal opposition of people, barring miniscule AIADMK MLAs, to Sasikala in Tamil Nadu and “it will be a sad day for Tamil Nadu if she is made the chief minister. Technically there is nothing wrong in AIADMK electing Sasikala as their leader, as it is their internal matter.”
“But is she the right person to be the chief minister of Tamil Nadu?” he questioned adding that the governor, ideally, ought to be swearing in a person elected by the MLAs as the chief minister.
But Chidambaram said “there is a slight window of discretion available to the governor who can consider all the conditions and situation before and take an appropriate decision.”
The AIADMK legislative party on Sunday chose its general secretary VK Sasikala to replace chief minister O Panneerselvam.