OPS Gains Strength, Guv’s Si­lence Wor­ries Sasi

By Sun­day noon, Pan­neer­sel­vam had 1 min­is­ter, 6 leg­is­la­tors, 10 MPs & 2 se­nior party lead­ers by his side

The Economic Times - - Pure Politics - Bha­rani.Vaitheesvaran @times­group.com

Chen­nai: Tamil Nadu’s po­lit­i­cal sit­u­a­tion con­tin­ued to be on the boil on Sun­day as Chief Min­is­ter O Pan­neer­sel­vam gained more sup­port and the VK Sasikala-led fac- tion be­trayed des­per­a­tion even as Gover­nor Vidyasagar Rao re­mained silent. By Sun­day noon, Pan­neer­sel­vam had one min­is­ter, six leg­is­la­tors and10 Mem­bers of Par­lia­ment and two se­nior party lead­ers, forc­ing Sasikala to re­dou­ble ef­fort to re­tain MLAs.

Try­ing hard to stem crossovers to the Pan­neer­sel­vam camp, Sasikala had met the se­questered leg­is­la­tors twice over the week­end. On Satur­day, a de­ter­mined Sasikala vowed to take steps nec­es­sary to claim power as her pa­tience wait­ing for the Gover­nor’s in­vite was wear­ing off. “The AIADMK MLAs are with us,” she as­serted at Poes Gar­den be­fore leaving for the re­mote re­sort hold­ing leg­is­la­tors pur­port­edly in her sup­port. Asked about the con­tin­u­ous de­fec­tion key mem­bers of the party, she replied cryp­ti­cally: “By now, you would know who is be­hind this. The MPs are mov­ing, which should tell you who is be­hind this cri­sis,” she said. Re­mem­ber­ing how for­mer chief min­is­ter Jay­alalithaa man­aged to


unify the fac­tions af­ter the death of MG Ra­machan­dran, she said her jour­ney as a politi­cian faces a sim­i­lar mo­ment. “For a wo­man to be a politi­cian is not an easy one. Such dis­tur­bances are not un­usual for us,” she said. If the im­passe con­tin­ues, Sasikala had warned she would up the ante to claim power. Ru­mours of an OPS-like protest near Jay­alalithaa's grave abounded as she sped to the lux­ury re­treat, fol­lowed by AIADMK leader KA Sen­got­taiyan and fisheries min­is­ter D Jayaku­mar. Mem­ber of Par­lia­ment R Laksh- manan, min­utes af­ter ar­riv­ing at Pan­neer­sel­vam’s res­i­dence, said: “This is not a de­ci­sion I had taken on my own. Af­ter con­sult­ing with the peo­ple of my con­stituency, I took this de­ci­sion." The OPS camp was un­ruf­fled by Sasikala’s at­tempts to ring-fence her leg­is­la­tors. Al­though it was a long way from ma­jor­ity, their con­fi­dence re­mained in­tact. “We are very clear in our con­science and acts. We strongly be­lieve the leg­is­la­tors, if al­lowed to be free, will stand by us,” said Ra­jya Sabha MP V Maitreyan. Ques­tioned why there is more sup­port from MPs than MLAs, Maitreyan said: “It’s sim­ple. The MPs are free; the MLAs are not.” The game of num­bers is still tilted in favour of Sasikala as her camp claimed the sup­port of 127 leg­is­la­tors, with the My­la­pore leg­is­la­tor R Nataraj assert­ing in a Face­book post that he is at­tend­ing to duty calls over “petty pol­i­tics.”

Even as both fac­tions staked claim to the AIADMK man­tle, pub­lic at­ten­tion and that of ob­servers turned to Gover­nor Vidyasagar Rao, whose si­lence ap­peared to rat­tle the Sasikala fac­tion and em­bolden Pan­neer­sel­vam. AIADMK Ra­jya Sabha MP R Vaithilingam, speak­ing out­side Poes Gar­den on Sun­day af­ter­noon said,“We are hope­ful that the Gover­nor will take a pos­i­tive step by this evening.”


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