Voices mount against Sasikala as Tamil du CM

Cheni, Feb 7: Former assembly Speaker P.H. Pandian and the late J. Jayalalithaa’s niece Deepa Jayakumar on Tuesday came out strongly against the elevation of AIADMK General Secretary V.K. Sasikala as Tamil du’s Chief Minister. Hours after Pandian, who is still with the AIADMK, demanded a probe into the circumstances leading to Jayalalithaa’s hospitalisation, Jayakumar said Tamil people were against Sasikala becoming the Chief Minister.

Pandian, who was the Speaker when the iconic AIADMK founder M.G. Ramachandran was the Chief Minister, spoke to the media at his residence along with his son Manoj Pandian, a former Rajya Sabha member. Manoj Pandian also claimed that Jayalalithaa had once told him that she may be poisoned to death.

“When Thuglaq editor Cho Ramaswamy and I were Directors of Jaya TV, she (Jayalalithaa) told us she fears this group would poison me to death,” Manoj Pandian said. Cho Ramaswamy died on December 6.

“I told her she does not belong to one family but belongs to over 1.5 crore members of AIADMK. The people of Tamil du will protect you,” the junior Pandian claimed.

Sasikala, a long-time confidante of Chief Minister Jayalalithaa who died on December 5, is set to head the Tamil du government after the AIADMK elected her as its legislature party leader. Jayakumar made known her dislike of Sasikala by saying that “being with someone for 33 years is not a qualification to become the Chief Minister.

“A lot of people are unhappy over the happenings in the AIADMK,” she told the media at her house. “The people of Tamil du are not happy with Sasikala becoming the Chief Minister.”

She said Monday’s press conference by doctors who said there was no “conspiracy” behind Jayalalithaa’s death was “stage-maged” and that she was determined to fight elections.

Jayakumar also said she would announce her plan of action on February 24 — whether to join the AIADMK or form a new party. On the death threats she is reportedly getting ever since she stepped into the public limelight, she said: “I won’t be cowed down by threats.” She accused the police of trying to put hurdles in the way of her public programmes.

The Pandians earlier questioned the legality of the AIADMK General Council’s election of Sasikala as General Secretary. Hinting at foul play, the senior Pandian said there should be a probe to find out what led to the hospitalisation of Jayalalithaa in September.

Citing news reports that Jayalalithaa had fallen at her residence on the day she was admitted to Apollo Hospitals, former Speaker Pandian said this must be probed.

He also termed Jayalalithaa’s death as “untural”. Pandian said Jayalalithaa once said that all her assets should go to the people after her death and he (Pandian) should see to that.

According to Manoj Pandian, there is no provision in the party’s rules for an interim General Secretary and all actions taken by Sasikala were void in law. The DMK has also come out against Sasikala’s attempts to become the Chief Minister on the strength of her long association with the late Jayalalithaa. (IANS)