Chennai: The AIADMK on Tuesday said it was the constitutional obligation of the Governor to swear-in Sasikala as Chief Minister and there is no ground for stopping it even as it rejected former Speaker PH Pandian's allegations of foul play in Jayalalithaa's death.
Addressing a press conference hours after Pandian questioned Sasikala's election as party chief and Legislature Party Leader paving the way for her becoming Chief Minister, the party hit back, dubbing him a "betrayer who joined the ranks of detractors and causing confusion."
"General Secretary in-charge can be appointed," senior AIADMK leader Panruti Ramachandran asserted, stating that Sasikala's elevation was in compliance with party rules and that it was valid.
"The constitutional obligation of the Governor is to swear in Sasikala. There is no ground for stopping it. Nobody can stop it," Ramachandran, who was a minister in the first MGR cabinet, said.
Asked about a PIL opposing swearing in of Sasikala as Chief Minister, he said that while the court can dismiss the petition, saying it cannot interfere in the Governor's duty. "We decided on Sunday (to elect her as legislature party leader). The petition came to Supreme Court on Monday".
The press conference at the party headquarters was called to dispel rumours and wrong stories circulating about Jayalalithaa's death especially in the wake of media interaction of Pandian and his son, who was also a minister in Jayalalithaa's cabinet.
Pandian and his son Manoj had earlier alleged that Sasikala's elevation was against party norms.
Sengottaiyan, who was appointed organisation Secretary on Friday, said despite Pandian's five family members being given party positions years ago which could not be seen in any other party, he has joined "detractors and was causing confusion."He said AIADMK is a "fort" which cannot be shaken by such people.
To a question on Sasikala soon becoming Chief Minister and if there was any delay from the side of theCentre in swearing her in, Ramachandran said "he (Governor Rao) will tell when he will come.
"He has accepted the resignation of Panneerselvam, it is a question of convenience of Governor," he said, adding, he did not see the Centre delaying it.
As soon as Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao arrives in Chennai, Sasikala's election as AIADMK Leader of Legislature Party will be submitted to him, he said.
"After giving him (Governor) the letter, if there was any delay, only then questions about delay arise...let us see," Ramachandran said.
Blaming Pandian for not making efforts to unify the party in 1990 after it had split following the death of MG Ramachandran, Sengottaiyan said he did not do anything for the party then.
"What right has he got to talk now?" he asked and alleged that he was also responsible for filing some cases against Jayalalithaa including the one against providing high-level security.
Reacting to Pandian's charges, AIADMK spokesperson C R Saraswathi alleged that he wanted to split the party.
"Why is he creating a scene now? What was he doing during those 60 days (since Jayalalithaa's death)?" she asked.
Saraswati alleged that in 1989, two years after the death of MG Ramachandran, he opposed "Amma" and stood by Janaki Ramchandran (MGR's widow).
"Claims (are) being made to create confusion now... he could have approached the party forum," she said.
Sengottaiyan stressed that Pandian did not contribute to the party at crucial junctures like during the efforts to retrieve the 'Two-Leaves' symbol for the AIADMK which was unified after lot of efforts by party veterans.
"You should not forget that Pandian joined the Tirunavukkarasar faction (now Tamil Nadu Congress Committee chief) in 1991 and fought polls on a DMK ticket," he said.
Denying all the allegations of Pandian, he said the former assembly speaker had fought the 1996 assembly election as an independent candidate which resulted in both the AIADMK nominee and him facing defeat.
Questioning Pandian's claims, Sengottaiyan charged that the former was behind filing of some court cases against late chief minister Jayalalithaa like the one against allotment of security personnel to her in 1996.
Though Pandian should have been grateful to the party for the positions it had bestowed on him and his family members, the AIADMK leader said, "He did not do that, he has joined the rank of detractors who are causing confusion."
Sengottaiyan said the party was united and no one can stop Sasikala from taking over as Tamil Nadu Chief Minister.
Answering a question on perceived delay in Sasikala taking over as the Chief Minsiter, Sengottaiyan said, "We need to fix an auspicious day, arrangements are happening at
University Auditorium...have we given any invitation for swearing-in?
"General Council can recommend a person to be in charge so that he or she can discharge the functions of the general secretary till such time a regular election is held for the post of general secretary," Ramachandran said replying to Pandian questioning the elevation of Sasikala as against party rules.
The two AIADMK leaders also said Sasikala was the "unanimous" choice of the party and legislators.
On Pandian raising some suspicions over Jayalalithaa's death, he asked "what is the proof? Did he show any proof?"
Ramachandran said only medical doctors were the competent authorities to speak on such issues, adding, "They did not say anything like that (indicating suspicious death)."
Meanwhile, another senior leader Ponnaiyan said Sasikala will soon assume charge as Chief Minister.
He praised her for her "organisational talent" and "efficiency."