Caretaker chief minister of Tamil Nadu O Panneerselvam dropped another bombshell on Wednesday, ordering an inquiry into the death of his predecessor J Jayalalithaa whose final days in a city hospital were shrouded in secrecy.
This is the latest salvo from Panneerselvam, who has launched a high-stakes revolt against new AIADMK chief VK Sasikala and is trying to build support to stop her becoming the next state chief minister. Panneerselvam, 66, has accused Sasikala, a long-time confidante of Jayalalithaa, of keeping party leaders away from the former chief minister’s hospital bed and, after her death, engineering a coup to replace him.
The people of Tamil Nadu deserved to be told the truth about her illness and death, he said.
The investigation into the death of Jayalalithaa will be headed by a retired high court judge. Jayalalithaa suffered a heart attack and passed away on December 5 after spending 75 days in hospital.
Speaking to journalists, Panneerselvam reiterated his willing to take back his resignation and said he would meet state governor C Vidyasagar Rao once he returned to Chennai.
The 66-year-old was speaking to the media as AIADMK MLAs were to meet to discuss the shock developments of the last 12 hours.
Jayalalithaa’s niece Deepa Jayakumar, two senior AIADMK leaders -- the father son duo of Pandians -- and Panneerselvam himself have hinted that Jayalalithaa’s death could have been a murder.
Asked if he would be open to Jayakumar joining him, Panneerselvam said, “Anyone was welcome to join in the fight.”
Panneerselvam denied the charge that he was doing the BJP or the Centre’s biding in fomenting trouble in the state and said he would prove his strength on the floor of the House.
“If there are compelling reasons, I will withdraw my resignation,” Panneerselvam said.
A majority of the 1,400 general council members of AIADMK supported Panneerselvam. It were only the MLAs, who fear for their position, were siding with Sasikala, a senior leader supporting Panneerselvam told HT.
“Sasikala is only a temporary general secretary of the party,” Panneerselvam said.
Another AIADMK leader KC Palanswamy, a former member of Parliament, said a movement would soon be launched to “retrieve” Poes Garden, AIADMK headquarters and Jaya TV.