In its first public protest, the O Panneerselvam-led AIADMK faction today observed a day-long fast across Tamil Nadu demanding a probe into the death of J Jayalalithaa.
Winding up the protest, which saw the participation of hundreds of supporters here and in the district headquarters, Panneerselvam said he was ready to face any probe into the “suspicious” circumstances surrounding the death of Jayalalithaa.
The fast 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.
Addressing the participants at the Rajarathinam Stadium here, Panneerselvam hit out at AIADMK chief 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 V K Sasikala, to get back our government from the hold of her family, our dharma yudh will continue. We are ready to make sacrificies for it,” Panneerselvam, who revolted against the party leadership last month, said.
He also disputed the remarks of state Health Secretary J Radhakrishnan that he (Panneerselvam) was also apprised of Jayalalithaa’s serious condition on December 5, saying he was not informed about the former Chief Minister’s health status.
Panneerselvam threatened to file a case against him if he did not withdraw a statement he made on Monday while releasing medical reports of Jayalalithaa.
On March 6, Radhakrishnan, quoting hospital reports, had 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. 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.
Referring to Health Minister C Vijayabaskar’s remarks that “Panneerselvam will be first inquired if there were to be a judicial inquiry”, he said he was ready to face any probe.
“Let them come and inquire, I will tell them what happened,” the three-time former Chief Minister said.
True to the legacy of late leaders M G Ramachandran and J Jayalalithaa, “this party and the government will always be of the people and by the people”, Panneerselvam said.
A report from Coimbatore said besides the three MLAs, former state minister K Damodaran, former mayor P Rajkumar and Tamil film actor Sundararajan were among those present.
In Thanjavur, more than 1,000 supporters of Panneerselvam participated in the fast in front of the head post office.
In neighbouring Puducherry, the fast was led by former MLA Om Sakthi Segar.
Addressing the participants, Segar said “mystery shrouded the death of Jayalalithaa” and hence it should be probed by the CBI.
Panneerselvam said 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 yudh” has begun and its starting point is the “mystery” surrounding the death of late 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, 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 after she apologised, the former chief minister said.
“That conspiracy was pursued and it has been fulfilled today leading to an extraordinary situation. This movement (party) should be saved and that is why we have started the dharma yudh,” he said, dubbing the Edappadi Palaniswami regime as a “proxy” of Sasikala.
“Only 122 MLAs are with them (Sasikala), but 7.5 crore Tamil people are with us,” he asserted.
“Sasikala had said she had severed her ties with those who had acted against Jayalalithaa. See, now who is there around (in the party),” he said in a veiled reference to Sasikala’s relatives, who were expelled by Jayalalithaa, holding positions in the AIADMK.
Sasikala had then said that she was not interested in power, politics or public life and had wanted only to be a good sister to Jayalalithaa.
Jayalalithaa took back Sasikala to assist her in her household and had told party office bearers including him that none should have any truck with her, Panneerselvam said.
“The AIADMK was founded (by MG Ramachandran) to prevent the party from going into the hands of a family (DMK chief Karunanidhi),” he said.