Breaking his silence for the very first time, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O Panneerselvam said that he was pressurised and forced to quit from his post. "I was humiliated by my own party men and was forced to resign. If people and workers want me to take back my resignation I will withdraw it," said Panneerselvam at Jayalalithaa's memorial on Tuesday. He visited the memorial all alone in a sudden move and meditated for more than half hour after which, a teary-eyed Panneerselvam addressed the media pouring his heart out.
Soon after he addressed the press, an emergency meeting of all AIADMK legislators was called for at Poes Garden. While not all of the MLAs turned up immediately about four ministers took part in the meeting. Sources suggest that the party is likely to expel Panneerselvam for 'anti-party activities' for his open revolt. AIADMK spokesperson C R Saraswati lambasted Panneerselvam for his statements in her interviews to television channels. Party general secretary Sasikala Natarajan is now expected to gather all the support and take a delegation to the governor. Meanwhile, supporters of Panneerselvam gathered outside his residence and shouted slogans in his support.
Earlier in the evening, Panneerselvam had said that his work towards the welfare of the people of Tamil Nadu had irked many in the party. "My efforts to ensure water to the people of Tamil Nadu and the push to legalise Jallikattu irritated them," said Panneerselvam at the Jayalalithaa memorial on Tuesday. "My work was being appreciated and they did not like it," he said in a shocking revelation.
He invoked Jayalalithaa and claimed that public needed to know some 'truths' and it was his late leader's spirit that prompted him to make things public. In one masterstroke, Panneerselvam routed Sasikala and her supporters. Using the public anger against Sasikala to his advantage, Panneerselvam said that he was time and again humiliated for his efforts to work towards the welfare of Tamil Nadu.
After meditating at the Jayalalithaa memorial, Panneerselvam addressed the media and said that he was asked to take over the leadership of the government when Jayalalithaa's health worsened after 70 days of her hospitalisation. "I was told that only I could become the Chief Minister since Amma had chosen me earlier. In the interest of the people of Tamil Nadu and to fulfil my leader's work, I agreed to become chief minister," he said.
There are truths to be revealed, Panneerselvam said as he began addressing the press. "I came here because my conscience was pricking. When Vardah cyclone hit Chennai, the ministers and I worked hard on relief. That irritated 'them'. While I was meeting Prime Minister narendra Modi for issues of the Tamil people, Thambidurai took 50 MPs and came to meet the PM. While I was doing my duty, the revenue minister gave an interview to media that Chinnamma should be chief minister. I questioned whether it was right for a minister who works for the chief minister to say this," he said.
Such things have hurt me as well as the people of Tamil Nadu, he said. "Ours is a wonderful party that has been built by Amma. people have appreciated Amma's achievements and have hailed our party as a brilliant organisation. We should have been disciplined to protect the party's image, instead, I was insulted and so was my post. I do not mind the insult, it is expected in public life. I did share my disappointment and was told to keep my patience," he added.
"Only someone who can work for the party, anyone who will work for the welfare of the people and to keep the party as brilliant as it was under Amma's leadership should be allowed to lead it. I am ready to fight and will do it alone if I have to," he said. The revolt is now open in public and support for Panneerselvam was evident at Marina beach.