AIADMK general secretary VK Sasikala was betraying a 2011 vow to her mentor J Jayalalithaa by staking claim to form the government, caretaker chief minister O Panneerselvam alleged on Thursday, attempting to discredit his rival in a bruising intraparty fight.
At a press conference in Chennai, Panneerselvam also paraded the support of senior AIADMK leader and legislator E Madhusudanan, who worked with Jayalalithaa and her mentor MG Ramachandran for more than 50 years.
Panneerselvam read out a letter Sasikala allegedly wrote to her mentor Jayalalithaa, seeking apology for her actions and promised not to seek any political position and use her influence.
Jayalalithaa allowed Sasikala – her confidante of over three decades -- back into her residence at Chennai’s Poes Gardens, months after throwing her out in October 2011.
“Now tell me who has cheated Amma,” the caretaker chief minister said.
The expulsion had been triggered by reports that Sasikala and her family were trying to extract political and financial favours on the basis of her relationship with Jayalalithaa.
The current crisis was sparked off by Panneerselvam’s dramatic revolt on Tuesday evening, when he claimed he was forced to resign as CM by Sasikala.
Since then, she has accused him of working on the behest of opposition DMK and is currently holding 130-plus party MLAs at a resort near Chennai.
But despite the apparent numerical strength, the controversy has raged on, and acting governor Vidyasagar Rao is expected to meet both parties this evening.
At the press conference, Madhusadanan said he backed Panneerselvam as Sasikala and her family were controlling the party.
“Sasikala is trying every dirty trick to become the chief minister, If Sasikala succeeds, it will be a blot on democracy,” Panneerselvam said, flanked by the MLAs supporting him.
Rajya Sabha MP Dr V Maitreyan was also present by the side of the caretaker CM – known popularly as OPS -- all through the briefing to show off his latest trophy – Madhusudanan – to the media.
Panneerselvam read out Sasikala’s 2011 letter to contrast her past behavior with her “naked hunger for power:, a fact that he said had not gone down well with the cadre and the masses.
“Sasikala is the traitor and not me as she alleged yesterday,” Panneerselvam said in a hard hitting statement, more directed at the MLAs locked up in the luxury resort.
It was Amma’s wish that Madhusudanan be made the party general secretary, Panneerselvam had said after his revolt.
“I am not compelling anyone to come to me. I am not breaking any party. Whosoever wants to come according to their free will is welcome to come here,” Panneerselvam said.