Tamil Nadu Deputy CM O Panneerselvam addressed a public gathering in Theni on Friday. While addressing the meeting he confirmed the BJP’s role in the merger of rival AIADMK factions. OPS said that PM Narendra Modi had asked him to “take charge” and be part of the government. OPS recollected a meeting with the PM before the merger in August last year. He said,”I went to meet the Prime Minister as a courtesy call. As we spoke, he recalled a lunch meeting with Amma (late J Jayalalithaa) in Chennai. He said Amma told him a lot about me. He insisted I take charge in order to save the party.”
Panneerselvam said he had accepted Modi’s suggestion but refused to join the state cabinet. “I told him I will take necessary steps to unite the party but I do not want to join the Cabinet. But he (Modi) said ‘No, No, you have to be in the government.’ That is why I am a minister now,” he said.
The comments come at the time when Panneerselvam’s credibility is being questioned after he joined CM Palaniswami’s cabinet. Following the merger, the united faction had lost the RK Nagar bypoll to TTV Dinakaran. Panneerselvam had famously rebelled against Jayalalithaa’s close aide Sasikala who is now in jail.
OPS had rebelled against Sasikala and her family after Amma’s death alleging that he was forced to make way for her elevation to the post of CM. However, after Sasikala was convicted in a corruption case, she could not become the chief minister and Palaniswami was given the post instead.
At the public meeting, OPS confessed that he never wanted to become a CM. Targeting Sasikala’s family, Panneerselvam said Amma would ask him if he maintained links with Sasikala’s family after they were ousted from the party and Jayalalitha’s residence in Poes Garden in 2011.