Within hours of the Supreme Court convicting AIADMK chief Sasikala in a disproportionate assets case, the party expelled rebel MLA and caretaker Chief Minister O Panneerselvam from primary membership of the party.
Party MLAs from the Sasikala camp also elected Sasikala’s loyalist Edapadi K. Palanisamy as the party’s Legislature leader. The MLAs also signed a letter voicing their support for Palanisamy.
“We have sent a letter staking claim to form Amma’s government,” Palanisami said.
Governor Ch Vidayasagar Rao met the newly elected AIADMK Legislature Leader on Tuesday evening. At the meeting Palanisami staked claim to form government after he presented the Governor a list of MLAs that are supporting him.
Palanisami’s elevation within the party was done at an emergency meet called by Sasikala at the same resort in the outskirts of Chennai where the MLAs are put up. The meeting was called soon after the Supreme Court upheld a Bengaluru trial court order convicting Sasikala and completely dashing her hopes of becoming chief minister of the state for at least 10 years. The court asked Sasikala to surrender herself.
Party strongman Palaniswami is a five-time MLA from Salem. He has been holding the portfolios of Highways, Public Works and Minor Ports since the previous Jayalalithaa-led cabinet.
Meanwhile, Pannerselvam who has the support of a few MLAs has reached out to Sasikala’s camp.
Post the verdict, Panneerselvam urged them to sink their differences and work together to keep the party united and continue ‘Amma’s rule’.
“Due to a few incidents, there had been a small impediment in continuance of her government. To remove this temporary impediment and to take forward the good governance of Amma, it is our duty to take steps according to our conscience,” Panneerselvam said.
“This is our duty and way of showing our gratitude to her (Jayalalithaa),” he appealed.
Last week, Panneerselvam had revolted against Sasikala, alleging that he was forced to step down as the chief minister. He also raised questions about Amma’s death and instituted a inquiry commission to probe the late leader’s death.
Panneerselvam’s revolt came just two days after February 5 when Sasikala was elected as the party’s Legislature Leader, a step towards her elevation as the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu.
Security has been strengthened across the state after the verdict. Police presence has been stepped up at the resort too, where MLAs along with Sasikala are present.
Sasikala is expected to leave for Bengaluru to surrender in the trial court as per the apex court order.
(With inputs from PTI)