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On Tuesday night, after sitting on a samadhi at Jayalalithaa memorial at Marina beach for about 50 minutes, Chief Minister O Panneerselvam broke his silence - for the first ever time in his political career.
What followed was a carefully crafted attack on his leader, AIADMK general secretary VK Sasikala, and his colleagues. Panneerselvam noted how reluctant he was to assume the position after Jaya's death, cited instances where junior members in the cabinet undermined him - some backstabbed - and his performance as the chief minister in the last three months.
This is the English version of that speech:
"I came to Amma’s memorial as my conscience hurt me. I wish to put forth some truths before the people and cadre, because Amma's soul asked me to do so. I am standing before you because of that.
"Amma was admitted to Apollo hospital and her condition worsened after 70 days. They [Sasikala and family, and their loyalista] came to me and said we have the duty to protect the party and government. I told them that Amma is under treatment...
"[In Jaya's absence] alternate arrangements should be made for general secretary and chief minister posts. They asked me to take over as chief minister and said Madhusudanan will become the general secretary. I did not accept that.
"During the past, on two occasions, Amma had given the opportunity of becoming chief minister. It was enough for me. So I asked them to select a person who will be acceptable to the public for the post.
"However, they insisted, saying since Amma had chosen you for that post twice earlier, if we chose someone else for that post now, it would not augur well with the people. They would not accept that and ultimately, it would bring bad name to the party and government. There would be differences of opinion. Pondering over these points, I have accepted their request and became the chief minister.
"Within two-three days, Health Minister Vijaya Baskar met me. [Sasikala's brother] Divakaran had told him that he wished to take her sister Sasikala to their native place. When I enquired further, he revealed that Divakaran and others wished to make Sasikala the general secretary. Since this was contrary to the earlier choice, Madhusudanan. I consulted with senior ministers at my residence. They also agreed to the idea of making Sasikala as the general secretary. Later, general council elected her to the post.
"I had decided to lead the government following Amma's footsteps and was doing so. That's when cyclone Vardah hit the coastal districts. But everything was set right within four days. The quick works brought good name to the government among the people. This has irritated them (Sasikala and family) to a great extent.
"After that, the drinking water problem cropped up. After consulting with officials, I met Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu and requested him to release water, which he promised to do in a phased manner. This also had brought good name to the Amma government.
"Later, the jallikattu protest took place. With a view to bring it to an end to the agitations, I urged the prime minister to promulgate an Ordinance. He agreed to extend support and assistance. I stayed there and promulgated the Ordinance. Then permanent legislation was enacted and president’s assent was received.
Sasikala 'betrayed' Jayalalithaa and AIADMK, claims party veteran PH Pandian
In the midst of the consecutive controversies and incidents occurring in Tamil Nadu politics, former deputy speaker of the state Assembly PH Pandian on Tuesday broke his silence and came up with a number of allegations around the death of former chief minister J Jayalalithaa, which he claimed, was quite an unnatural one.
Following this, Pandian claimed that Sasikala has acquired all the assets of J Jayalalithaa by betraying the members of the party. "Jayalalithaa herself had declared that all her assets should be given for the welfare of the people of Tamil Nadu, after her death. But, it has not happened," Pandian claimed and added that Sasikala had already issued an apology letter to Jayalalithaa indicating that neither she nor her family had any relationship with the late chief minister, but Sasikala has now grabbed all her assets and roles.