Chennai: Cooperatives minister Sellur K. Raju on Sunday stoked a controversy by hailing V.K. Sasikala as the “saviour” of post-Jayalalithaa AIADMK and asserted that his loyalty to her was undiminished, but he would refrain from proclaiming it as it might embarrass Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami and his deputy O. Panneerselvam, who are now ranged against her.
“I have not changed my opinion about Chinamma. She is responsible for installing Amma’s government in Tamil Nadu (after Jayalalithaa’s death) and I will continue to say that. But since I am working under Chief Minister Palaniswami and coordinator of the party Panneerselvam, I am restraining myself from making my personal wish known in the public,” Raju told reporters in Madurai.
Raju’s comments came as Sasikala is currently in Chennai after coming out of parole from the Parapana Agrahara prison in Bengaluru and her arrival has obviously made people who owe their positions to proclaim their loyalty in public. The Dhinakaran camp, which has been harping on the sleeper cells inside the EPS-OPS camp, used the occasion to take potshots at the Chief Minister calling Raju as “one of the member” of the sleeper cell.
“If people are wondering who the sleeper cells are, here is one,” Dhinakaran loyalist C.R. Saraswathi said, pointing to Raju’s statement. In fact, the minister was one of the leaders who openly pushed for Sasikala taking over as Chief Minister before she was elected as interim general secretary of the AIADMK.
The robust royalty proclamation by Raju can only confirm ‘fears’ in the EPS-OPS camp as that the threat of sleeper cells sounded by the TTV camp could be pretty much real. Raju’s statement, the analysts say, does not come as a surprise since every AIADMK MLA owes his position to Sasikala, who handpicked them after series of background checks and interviews, though late Jayalalithaa only signed the B-Forms that are issued to candidates for allotting the party symbol.
Analysts say that all this can only keep the ambers of hope alive in the DMK-led Opposition that there could still be a chance of early poll arising out of a coup by the so-called sleeper cells. Except Palaniswami, whose blood Sasikala and Dhinakaran are baying for now, and Panneerselvam, who began the rebellion popularly known as the ‘Marina Revolt’, and a handful of ministers, everyone is suspected of being part of the sleeper cell.
Though Sasikala’s popularity in the legislature party is immense till today, same cannot be said about her reputation among the party cadre and the public. Sasikala’s unpopularity among the public could be gleaned from the fact that her own nephew deleted her name from the posters and campaign materials during the RK Nagar bypoll....