Chennai: In his protest against the state government, O. Panneerselvam drew a good crowd and the event at Rajarathinam Stadium was attended by close to 10,000 of his supporters including members of public. Though there was no major traffic hindrance around Chennai, the event affected the peak hour traffic in and around Egmore, where the day long was fast was observed.
The fast at the stadium was led by senior leader E. Madusudanan and attended by C. Ponnaiyan and P.H. Pandian among others. Similar hunger strikes were staged across the state. In Avadi, former School Education Minister K.Pandiarajan led the protest. In Tirunelveli, it was held under the leadership of former MP Manoj Pandian. In Coimbatore, more than 2,000 AIADMK workers, including local MLAs P.C. Arukutty, O.K. Chinnaraj and P.G.R. Arunkumar, participated in the fast.
Large posters of Jayalalithaa during her funeral procession with Panneerslvam weeping and banners of people with tears filled the protest fast venue. A massive stage with digital screens was also put up to help the cadres watch Panneerselvam’s address. In Chennai, most of the councillors also put up posters in support of Panneerselvam.
Addressing the participants at the stadium, Panneerselvam hit out at AIADMK general secretary V.K. Sasikala and her family, saying, “our fight will continue till a judicial inquiry or a CBI probe is ordered”. “To retrieve our party from the clutches of Sasikala, to get back our government from the hold of her family, our dharma yudham will continue. We are ready to make sacrifices for it,” said Panneerselvam, who revolted against the party leadership last month.
True to the legacy of late leaders M.G. Ramachandran and Jayalalithaa, “this party and the government will always be of the people and by the people”, he said, adding that Jayalalithaa had demonstrated that hers was a “people’s regime” and had steered the party as a “people’s movement”.
“The situation has turned upside down. An extraordinary situation has emerged now wherein an individual family is plundering the party and the regime led by it,” he said referring to Sasikala and her family. To retrieve the party from such a situation a “dharma yudham” has begun and its starting point is the “mystery” surrounding the death of Jayalalithaa, he said.
Alleging that Sasikala had in a letter written in 2012 to Jayalalithaa admitted that some of her relatives and friends had conspired against her (Jayalalithaa), he said Sasikala herself had termed it as an “unpardonable betrayal”.
“What is that conspiracy?..it was to bring both the party and reins of government into their family fold,” he alleged. After she came to know about this conspiracy, Jayalalithaa threw Sasikala and her relatives out of the party. She re-admitted Sasikala into her household only after she apologised and for only assisting her in her household. Jayalalithaa had even asked the party office bearers, including him, not to have any truck with Sasikala, Panneerselvam said.
Dubbing the Edappadi Palaniswami regime as a “proxy” of Sasikala, he said, “only 122 MLAs are with them (Sasikala), but 7.5 crore Tamil people are with us”.
‘No info about jaya health’
Panneerselvam also threatened to file a case against health secretary J. Radhakrishnan if the official failed to withdraw a statement he made on Monday while releasing Jayalalithaa’s medical reports. On March 6, Radhakrishnan, quoting hospital reports, said that senior ministers and political leaders including Panneerselvam were apprised of the serious condition of Jayalalithaa on December 5.
Citing this, Panneerselvam said, “As far as I am concerned, no information was conveyed to me. By around 6.30 I came to know through media that Amma is no more. When I contacted the hospital and state officials, they said it is a rumour. If he does not withdraw his statement, I categorically state that I will file a case against him in court.” He said not once were they allowed to see Amma though they had stayed put at the hospital all along. The Sasikala camp did not even listen to suggestions that Jayalalithaa should be taken to the UK or the US for treatment, he claimed.