OPS' Modi comment draws diverse reactions

By PTI Published on Feb 19, 2018 11:02 AM IST

Salem: Tamilnadu Chief Minister K Palaniswami has declined to comment on his deputy O Panneerselvam's remarks that he (Panneerselvam) acted on a suggestion from Prime Minister Narendra Modi on merging his faction with that of Palaniswami.

Palaniswami said he would respond to the issue after going through Panneerselvam's remarks, made at an AIADMK office-bearers meeting at Theni on Friday.

"I don't know about it. I will comment after going through it (Panneerselvam's remarks)," he told reporters here yesterday.

Senior State BJP leader and Union Minister Pon Radhakrishnan ruled out the possibility of Modi's role in the merger, saying the "Prime Minister has at no point of time involved himself in politics".

"Even during elections, he campaigns for the BJP and its allies... he doesn't initiate any political steps (such as this)," he told reporters in Madurai.

However, "Panneerselvam's remarks show as if they (AIADMK) are still in some kind of problem," he said in an apparent reference to the pre-merger differences between the two camps.

Panneerselvam, who, last year, merged his faction with that of Palaniswami, had said on Friday that he had acted on a suggestion from the Prime Minister. "He (Modi) said you (Panneerselvam) could join (merge the faction) to save the party," the Deputy Chief Minister had said, without specifying exactly when the conversation took place.

In a related development, sidelined AIADMK leader and R K Nagar MLA, T T V Dhinakaran, hit out at Panneerselvam for his criticism of V K Sasikala, the close aide of late chief minister J Jayalalithaa, and her family.

He asked if the Prime Minister was the "general secretary of the AIADMK" to whose suggestion Panneerselvam paid heed.

"If he (Panneerselvam) says he joined (merged his faction) because the Prime Minister suggested so, then who is the general secretary of the AIADMK, the Prime Minister?," he asked while speaking to reporters in Chennai.

Dhinakaran said if Sasikala wanted to become the chief minister, she could have done so on the very night Jayalalithaa died, i.e., 5 December 2016, but that she chose Panneerselvam for the job. He claimed that Panneerselvam had insisted that Sasikala take over the party's reigns in the wake of Jayalalithaa's demise.

"If he was really troubled (by the Sasikala family) how could she have made him the chief minister? In fact, Panneerselvam had proposed Chinnamma (Sasikala) as chief minister on February 5 last year," he said.

Sasikala was elected leader of the AIADMK legislature party, paving way for her elevation as chief minister. However, Panneerselvam revolted against her two days later, alleging that he was forced to make way for her.

Sasikala was later that month convicted in an assets case and is since lodged in a prison in Bengaluru.

At the Theni meeting, Panneerselvam had charged that Sasikala's family tried to work for his defeat in the 2016 polls. "If anyone else had faced this amount of crisis and problems, they would have committed suicide or would have left the party. (But) I tolerated everything for Amma," he had said.