CHENNAI/MADURAI: Many an eyebrow was raised on Monday when Deputy Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam was not part of the high-level meeting that Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami took on the sensitive Cauvery water issue. However, Panneerselvam, who was in Madurai due to “prior engagements”, rejected talk of differences with Palaniswami saying, “I am consulted on every issue.”
Panneerselvam's absence at the crucial meeting where the decision to convene an all-party meeting led to speculation that all was not well within the ruling AIADMK. The Deputy Chief Minister's absence at the meeting also came two days after he told a public meeting that he merged his faction with that of the camp led by Palaniswami only on the advice of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Though the Chief Minister's camp rejected OPS' statement about Modi's involvement in the AIADMK merger, the deputy chief minister stood his ground yet again on Monday during a brief interaction with reporters. “I sought Prime Minister Narendra Modi's advice (on the merger). PM's advice only reflected his good intentions that the AIADMK, which was led by late J. Jayalalithaa, should stay united. I followed his advice,” Panneerselvam reiterated in Madurai on Monday. He also accused DMK working president M. K. Stalin and other opposition leaders of “politicising” his statement for their gains.
To repeated questions on his equation with Palaniswami, Panneerselvam maintained all was well between them. “The Chief Minister consults me on every issue. There are no differences (between us),” he said. Political observers say OPS' statement on Prime Minister's “advice” clearly shows the rift within the AIADMK as the Chief Minister continues to consolidate his position and is firmly in his saddle.
Panneerselvam, who merged his faction and took the position of deputy chief minister, is sulking for the last few months with reports saying that none of the promises made to him during the merger has been fulfilled. The Deputy Chief Minister also took a dig at Stalin for “politicising” the Cauvery issue and tried to pin the blame on DMK. “The DMK never took any steps to restore Tamil Nadu's rights over Cauvery river water. The DMK that was part of the Congress-led UPA never bothered to notify the CWDT award in the gazette. It is only late Amma who got it done,” Panneerselvam said....