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Panneerselvam attends office, Sasikala vows to win

Cheni, Feb 13: Acting Tamil du Chief Minister O. Panneeerselvam and AIADMK General Secretary V.K. Sasikala remained on the warpath on Monday amid speculation they will be told to prove their strength in the assembly. “We have the strength to mage any number of enemies,” a defiant Sasikala, a long-time confidante of the late J. Jayalalithaa, told AIADMK supporters at the former Chief Minister’s Poes Garden residence.

Her comments came a day before the Supreme Court was set to pronounce its verdict in a case of holding disproportiote assets against Sasikala. If she is convicted, her hopes of becoming the Chief Minister will be dashed. The case was filed by the Kartaka government challenging the acquittal of Jayalalithaa, Sasikala and two Sasikala relatives by the Kartaka High Court.

While the Panneerselvam camp continued to assert that most AIADMK MLAs were held captive by Sasikala at a resort, government counsel told the Madras High Court that the legislators were not illegally detained.

After a week’s gap, Panneerselvam attended office on Monday. He announced Rs 300,000 to the family of a murdered girl.

Attorney General Mukul Rohtagi has reportedly told Governor C. Vidyasagar Rao to call a special session of the assembly and ask Panneerselvam and Sasikala to prove their majority.

According to his supporters, Panneerselvam is expected to discuss with officials the issue of alleged confinement of AIADMK legislators. An AIADMK leader told IANS on the condition of anonymity that they had proof that some legislators were being forced to stay at the resort, about 90 km from here.

Panneerselvam did not attend office since he revolted against Sasikala on February 7, alleging his resigtion was forced.

He quit on February 5, paving the way for Sasikala to become the Chief Minister. The government posted S. Davidson Devasirvatham as the Inspector General of Police in charge of Intelligence in place of K.N. Sathiyamurthy.

For a third day in running, Sasikala went to meet the legislators backing her at the beach resort.

Earlier, she told hundreds of supporters here that the Chief Minister’s post was not important for her. She reiterated that it was she who pressed Panneerselvam to become the Chief Minister after Jayalalithaa died on December 5.

She claimed Panneerselvam wanted her to take charge of the state but she told him that it was important at that time for her to be with the body of Jayalalithaa.

“With the party having a cadre strength of 1.5 crore, no ‘komban’ (person with great skills) can break the AIADMK,” she told the cheering crowd.

“The party cadres are with me,” she added to applause. “As long as the cadres are with me and with Amma’s blessings, an AIADMK government will be in place.”

AIADMK spokesperson Vaigail Selvan alleged that the BJP and DMK were exerting pressure to delay the swearing in of Sasikala. Meanwhile, Sasikala supporters went to the AIADMK headquarters in large numbers probably to thwart any takeover by the Panneerselvam camp. Jaya TV is under Sasikala’s control and beams her speeches. The AIADMK website and Twitter account too are with her. Ten of the Lok Sabha and two of the Rajya Sabha members of the AIADMK as well as six of the 135 MLAs are siding with Panneerselvam.

The other MLAs are reportedly with Sasikala, who has sought to meet the Governor again to stake claim to form a government. (IANS)

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Ankur Kalita